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Author of " Christianity Chronologically Confirmed." ^ 
« Why am I a Christian?" " Dionysius the Areopagite. < 

" How charming is Divine Philosophy ! 
Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose, 
But musical as is Apollo's lute." 

Sames fatter atiB Co. 







My thanks are due to Miss M. C. Dawes, M.A.,for careful 
revision of the translation. 













Felix es Gallia ! quce, tantos et tales meruisti suscipere 




Venice. Antwerp. Migne (Paris). 

Syriac. Sergius of Ras'ain, a.d. 530. B. Mus. Add. 

12151-2, 22370. 
Latin. Johannes Scotus. 

Johannes Sarracinus. 

Ambrosius Camaldulensis. 

Balthasar Corderius. 


Fabure Stapulensis. 
Paraphrase. Cel. and Ecc. Hier., Dean Colet. 
French. Frere Jean de St. Frangois. 

Monseigneur Darboy. 

L'Abbe Dulac. 
German. Dr. Ceslaus Maria Schneider. 

Dean Colet by Rev. J. H. Lupton. 
Rev. J. Parker. 


John of Scythopolis, 490. 
Joseph Huzaja. 
Phocas, bar. Sergius 

John, Bishop of Dara. 
Theodore, bar. Zarudi 

Hugo of St. Victor. 
John of Salisbury. 
Robert of Lincoln. 
St. Thomas Aquinas. 
Albertus Magnus. 
Dionysius Carthusianus. 



Dionysius, Bishop of Alex- 
andria, A.D. 250. 
Sergius of Ras'ain. 


Vindicise Areopagaticae, 1702. 

Hilduinus Areopagatica, 9th Century, Galenus, 1563. 

L'Abbe Darras, St. Denis, premier eveque de Paris, 

1863. Vives. Paris. 
J. Baltenweck, La question de Pauthenticite' des Merits 

Rixheim, J. Sutter. 
Vidieu, St. Denis l'Areopagite, 1889. Firmin Didot. 
Canon Bernard, St. Trophime d' Aries, 1888. 
Schneider, " Areopagitica," Regensburg, 1884. Manz. 
Jahn, " Dionysiaca," 1889. Altona. 
Millet, " Responsio ad De duobus Dionysiis," 1642. 
Pearson, " Ignatii vindicias," with two letters of "Vos- 

sius." Cambridge. 
Erasmus, " Ratio verse, religionis," and " Institutio." 
Hippolytus, " Refutation of all heresies," 1859. Got- 

Dexter's Chronicon, Migne, Tom. 31. 
Myrothecum sacrorum Elaeochrismaton, 1625-7. 
The Conversion of India, George Smith, C.I.E., John 

Murray, 1893. 

Launoy, 1660. 
Daille\ 1666. 
Montet, 1848. 
Hipler, 1861. 

Nirschl, 1888, Histpolit Blatter, p. 172 — 184, and p. 257 — 

a See Science de Dieii, Schneider II. vol. p. 2-29. Manz, 


In British Museum there are about 30 Editions, and 
40 Treatises, and the Book of Hierotheus (Add. Rich. 
7189), translation of which is promised by Professor 
A. L, Frothingham. Leyden, E. J. Brill. 

In Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, 12 Editions. 

Avignon, 16 Editions, between 1498 and 1600. 

Leyden, superb MSS. with marginal scholia, 15th 

In Rome there are many editions. Unfortunately the 
Codex produced at the Greek and Latin Council, in the 
Lateran, a.d. 660, is not in the Vatican, the whole 
Library in the tower of Santa Francisca having been 
destroyed in 12 19. There is, in the Vatican, a letter 
in Latin from Dionysius to St. Paul, in which he speaks 
of the beauty of the blessed Virgin, no doubt as seen 
in death. There is another pathetic letter to Timothy 
describing the martyrdom of St. Paul, and his own deso- 
lation. In the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, there is 
an autobiography in Syriac, in which it is stated that 
when St. Paul described the Crucifixion in his speech 
at Athens, Dionysius sent to fetch his notes, made in 
Egypt, which were publicly read and found to agree with 
St. Paul, both as to day and hour. It says, St. Paul's 
visit to Athens was fourteen years after the darkness 
in Egypt, which would place the conversion of Diony- 
sius A.D. 44. 


Principal Works on Dionysius the Areo 
pagite . 

Books to be Read 

Works against Genuineness 

Preface to the " Divine Names " 
Divine Names 
Note. — Ignatius 

Preface to Mystic Theology . 
Mystic Theology . 

Preface to the Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite 
Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite 

Preface to Liturgy .... 
Liturgy of St. Dionysius, Bishop of the 
Athenians .... 

Objections to Genuineness 










The Treatise on "Divine Names" was written 
by Dionysius, at the request of Timothy, and at the 
instigation of Hierotheus, to express, in a form more 
easily understood, the more abstract Treatise of 
Hierotheus, who was his chief instructor after St. Paul. 
Its purpose is to explain the epithets in Holy Scripture 
applied alike to the whole Godhead— Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost. It does not pretend to describe 
the unrevealed God, Who is beyond expression and 
conception, and can only be known through that 
union with God, "by which we know, even as we 
are known." Holy Scripture is the sole authority, 
beyond which we must neither think nor speak 
of Almighty God. The Treatise, being written by 
one of the most learned Greeks, the phraseology 
is, naturally, that of Plato and Aristotle ; but Plato 
and Aristotle are not authorities here. When Plato 
treated his Hebrew instructor with such reverence, 
and was so versed in the Pentateuch, we need not 
be sensitive as to the admission of Plato's authority. 
But, as a matter of fact, on the question of Ex- 
emplars a and some other points, the opinions of Plato 
are expressly refuted. The phrase of Luther, " Plato- 
nising, rather than Christianising," proves only a very 

• C. V. § 2. 


meagre acquaintance with Dionysius. The Greek 
language is moulded in a marvellous manner to 
express the newly revealed Christian Faith in its 
most exalted form, in a style which DaiHe* confesses 
to be always of the same " colour ; " and Pearson, 
"always like itself." Jahn has followed Dionysius 
step by step in order to trace the connection be- 
tween the language of Plato and Dionysius, for the 
purpose of exploding the puerile supposition that 
such complex writings as these could have been 
evolved from the elementary treatises of Proclus 
and Plotinus. Most probably, some of the lost 
writings of Dionysius are in part preserved in those 
writers and in Clement of Alexandria ; but Dionysius 
is the Master, not Pupil ! The works are very dis- 
tinct and precise upon the Divinity of Christ, and 
the Hypostatic Union. Like St. Paul, Dionysius 
affirms that He, Who made all things, is God ; 
and further that Jesus is God, by some startling 
phraseology. He speaks of James, "the Lord's 
brother b ," as " brother of God." David, from whom 
was born Christ after the flesh, is called "father 
of God c ." When speaking of the entombment of 
the Blessed Virgin, he speaks of her body as the 
"Life-springing" and "God-receptive body;" thus 
testifying that Jesus, born of a pure Virgin, is Life 
and God. He describes the miracles of Jesus as 
being, as it were, the new and God-incarnate energy 
of God become Man. The newly coined words 

b 'A5c\<p69eos. c QeoiraTop. 


indicate an original thinker moulding the Greek 
language to a newly acquired faith. There are two 
words, " Agnosia " and " Divine Gloom/' which illus- 
trate a principle running through these writings, — 
that the negative of abstraction denotes the super- 
lative positive. " Divine Gloom " is the darkness 
from excessive light; "Agnosia "is neither ignorance 
nor knowledge intensified: but a supra-knowledge 
of Him, Who is above all things known. It is " the 
most Divine knowledge of Almighty God, within 
the union beyond mind, when the mind, having 
stood apart from all existing things, and then, having 
dismissed itself, has been united to the superluminous 
rays— thence and there, being illuminated by the 
unsearchable wisdom." In the Mystic Theology, 
Dionysius exhorts Timothy thus, — " But, thou, O 
dear Timothy, leave behind both sensible percep- 
tion, and intellectual efforts, and all objects of sense 
and intelligence ; and all things being and not being, 
and be raised aloft as far as attainable, ayvoaara^ — 
unknowingly d , — to the union with Him above every 
essence and knowledge. For by the resistless and 
absolute ecstacy from thyself, in all purity, thou wilt 
be carried high to the super-essential ray of the 
Divine darkness, when thou hast cast away all, and 
become liberated from all." Thus, we must pass 
beyond all things known, and all things being, and 
lie passive under the illuminating ray of God, if 
we would attain the highest conception of Him, 

d As beyond knowledge. 


" Who passeth all understanding." God " unknown '' 
is still the God of Dionysius, and He is still to be 
worshipped unknowingly. There is a tradition that 
Dionysius erected the altar in Athens "to God 
unknown," as author of the inexplicable darkness, 
which he observed in Egypt, and found afterwards 
from St Paul to have been contemporaneous with 
the Crucifixion. Did St Paul adapt his discourse 
at Athens to the conversion of Dionysius? 

The only heresiarch, whom Dionysius mentions 
by name, is Elymas, the Sorcerer, Simon Magus, 
a man of great intellectual attainments and a con- 
siderable author. Flavius Clemens and Eugenius, 
Bishop of Toledo, were disciples of Simon before 
their conversion to Christ. The tenets of Elymas 
are described by Hippolytus. He formed an eclec- 
tic system from the Old Testament and the Christian 
Faith, and with Cerinthus and Carpocrates origi- 
nated many heresies to which the apostolic epistles 
allude, and which in later times became prominent 
in the Church. In refuting these heresies, by mani- 
festation of the truth, Dionysius anticipated many 
errors — ancient and modern. 

Jerome informs us (Scr. Ecc. 46) that Pantsenus 6 , 
one of the most celebrated Christian philosophers 
of Alexandria, was sent, a.d. 193, by Demetrius, 
Bishop of that city, to India, at the request of a 

e Conversion of India, p. 12. Pressense, The Earlier Years 
of Christianity, Vol. II. p. 271. The History of Mathura 
(Muttra), by F. S. Growse, on the glorification of the Divine 



delegation from India for that purpose. Pantaenus 
discovered, on his arrival, that St. Bartholomew (one 
of the twelve) had preached the coming of Jesus 
Christ, in that country. Pantaenus found a copy of 
the Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew in India. Now, 
by the extract, contained in the Scholia of Maximus, 
from the Scholia of Dionysius of Alexandria (250) 
upon the Divine Names, and also by the extract 
from a letter of the same Dionysius, recently dis- 
covered in the British Museum f (Nos. 12151-2), 
we know that the writings of Dionysius the Areo- 
pagite were known and treasured in Alexandria 
a few years after the death of Pantaenus. Can we 
reasonably doubt that Pantaenus took the writings 
of Dionysius, and the more abstract works of Hiero- 
theus, to India? Have we not here an explanation 
of the remarkable similarity between the Hindu phi- 
losophy, as expressed by Sankara^ in the eighth, and 
Ramanuja in the thirteenth century, and the " Divine 
Names ? " Sankara treats of the Supreme as " abso- 
lutely One ; " Ramanuja as " non-dual, with quali- 
fication." Both these truths are combined and ex- 
pressed in Dionysius. 

I cannot but believe that many of the beautiful ex- 
pressions about Vishnu, the Redeemer, in the Rama- 
yana of Tulsi-das are Christian Truths under a Hindu 
dress h . Many learned Hindus affirm that it is need- 

f Vidieu, p. 73. 

« Ankara's doctrine, Sir Monier Williams, " Brahmanism," 
p. 55. Ramanuja' s explained, "Brahmanism," p. 119, &c. 
J, Murray. 

h At Council of Nicea in 325, Johannes, the Metropolitan 


less for them to become Christian, because they have 
a more exalted conception of the Supreme God than 
Christians themselves. I submit that the " Divine 
Names " will be instrumental in bringing India to the 
Christian Faith, in the best and only effectual way— 
by communities and not by individuals— through the 
most learned and devout, and not through the most 

Dionysius was first converted, and then, through 
him, those who naturally and properly followed his 

Lucius Flavius Dexter. 

Dexter was a friend of Jerome. Jerome even ad- 
dresses him as "films amicus," and describes him 
as " clarus apud saeculum et Christi fidei deditus." 

Dexter became Prefect of the Pretorian Oriental 
Guards, and was one of the most illustrious states- 
men of his time. He resided two years in Toledo. 
From the archives of the Church of Toledo and other 
cities he compiled a chronicle from a.d. i to a.d. 430, 
giving a brief summary of the Church events in Spain. 
That chronicle he dedicated to Jerome, who enrolled 
both Chronicle and Author amongst his " illustrious 
men." It was at the request of Dexter that Jerome 
wrote his book on Ecclesiastical Writers. Among 
the earliest Bishops of Toledo, Dexter describes a re- 
markable man,— Marcellus— surnamed Eugenius, on 
account of his noble birth. 

of Persia, signed also as "of the great India." Merv was an 
Episcopa See, a.d. 334. Con. of India, pp. IS — 3 1 - 


Bivarius says he was of the house and family of 
Caesar, being uncle to the Emperor Hadrian. Mar- 
cellus was consecrated Bishop by Dionysius the Areo- 
pagite at Aries, and sent to Toledo. Respecting 
him, Dexter records that Dionysius dedicated the 
books of the Divine Names to him, u.c. 851, a.d. 98. 
Dexter further records that Dionysius surnamed 
Marcellus, Timothy, on account of his excellent 
disposition. Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, relates 
that Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus, to whom the 
works of Dionysius were originally dedicated, was 
martyred during the reign of Nerva, a.d. 96-97. 
Upon the return of Dionysius to Gaul, after his visit 
to St. John, released from Patmos, we find him calling 
his friend Marcellus, Timothy, and presenting the 
books of the "Divine Names" to him, a.d. 98; in 
order that he might still have a Timothy on earth, — 
" in vivis " — although his first Timothy, " migravit ad 
Christum," a.d. 97. 

This touch of nature, preserved in a chronicle, 
written more than 1400 years ago, by an illustrious 
statesman, who was son of a Bishop celebrated for 
learning and sanctity, may fairly be deemed, by an 
unprejudiced mind, reasonable proof that the "Divine 
Names " were written previous to a.d. 98. 

N.B. As the result of some research I affirm that 
our Saviour's last commission is the Key to Church 
history in the first century. As He commanded the 
Apostles to preach the Gospel throughout the world, 
so the Gospel was preached when St. Paul wrote his 


Epistle to the Colossians, Chap. I. v. 23 (row kt) P v X - 
Oeuros iv Trdat] Kriaei), and with such success amongst 
the most learned and noble, that, but for the cruel 
massacre of Flavius ' Clemens and his family for the 
Christian Faith, there would have been a Christian 
Emperor in the first century. As Jesus said, " Ye 
shall be witnesses of Me unto the uttermost parts 
of the earth " (Acts Chap. I. v. 8), so the Apostles 
planted the Church of Christ in Gaul, Spain and 
Britain, with its threefold ministry ; and by the end 
of the second century there was an organised Church 
throughout each of those territories \ 

Dr. Schneider informs me " that in Germany they 
now admit that the external proofs are in favour 
of genuineness of Dionysius, but they confine them- 
selves to the internal proofs. They pretend that 
the doctrine is too clear and precise to have been 
written in the apostolic age." 

How could the chief Areopagite, the convert and 
companion of St. Paul, and the familiar friend of 
St. John, Theologus, have understood theology ! ! 

i Burton, Ecc. Hist., Vol. I. p. 367- 

* Mansi I. 698, Jaffi. Regesta Rom. Pon. 2nd Ed., p. 10, 
by Ewald. 


To my Fellow Presbyter, Timothy, 


What is the purpose of the discourse, and what the 
tradition concerning Divine Names. 

Section I, 

Now then, O Blessed One, after the Theological 
Outlines*, I will pass to the interpretation of the 
Divine Names, as best I can. 

But, let the rule of the Oracles be here also 
prescribed for us, viz., that we shall establish the 
truth of the things spoken concerning God, not 
in the persuasive words of man's wisdom, but in 
demonstration of the Spirit-moved power of the 
Theologians, by aid of which we are brought into 
contact with things unutterable and unknown, in 
a manner unutterable and unknown, in propor- 
tion to the superior union of the reasoning and 
intuitive faculty and operation within us. By no 
means then is it permitted to speak, or even to 
think, anything, concerning the superessential and 
hidden Deity, beyond those things divinely revealed 
to us in the sacred Oracles b . For Agnosia (supra- 

■ Cap. 3. Mystic Theology. b lb. c. I. s. 3. 

2 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

knowledge) of its superessentiality above reason and 
mind and essence — to it must we attribute the super- 
essential science, so far aspiring to the Highest, as 
the ray of the supremely Divine Oracles imparts 
itself, whilst we restrain ourselves in our approach to 
the higher glories by prudence and piety as regards 
things Divine. For, if we must place any confidence 
in the All Wise and most trustworthy Theology, 
things Divine are revealed and contemplated in pro- 
portion to the capacity of each of the minds, since 
the supremely Divine Goodness distributes Divinely 
its immeasurableness (as that which cannot be 
contained) with a justice which preserves those 
whose capacity is limited. For, as things intelligible 
cannot be comprehended and contemplated by 
things of sense, and things uncompounded and un- 
formed by things compounded and formed ; and the 
intangible and unshaped formlessness of things 
without body, by those formed according to the 
shapes of bodies ; in accordance with the self- same 
analogy of the truth, the superessential Illimitability 
is placed above things essential, and the Unity above 
mind above the Minds j and the One above con- 
ception is inconceivable to all conceptions ; and the 
Good above word is unutterable by word — Unit 
making one every unit, and superessential essence 
and mind inconceivable, and Word unutterable, 
speechlessness and inconception d , and nameless- 
ness— being after the manner of no existing being, 
and Cause of being to all, but Itself not being, 

c a\oyia. d aforjaia. 

on Divine Names. 3 

as beyond every essence, and as It may manifest 
Itself properly and scientifically concerning Itself. 

Section II. 
Concerning this then, as has been said, the super- 
essential and hidden Deity, it is not permitted to 
speak or even to think beyond the things divinely 
revealed to us in the sacred Oracles. For even as 
Itself has taught (as becomes Its goodness) in the 
Oracles, the science and contemplation of Itself 
in Its essential Nature is beyond the reach of all 
created things, as towering superessentially above 
all. And you will find many of the Theologians, 
who have celebrated It, not only as invisible and 
incomprehensible, but also as inscrutable and un- 
traceable, since there is no trace of those who have 
penetrated to Its hidden infinitude. The Good 
indeed is not entirely uncommunicated to any single 
created being, but benignly sheds forth its super- 
essential ray, persistently fixed in Itself, by illumin- 
ations analagous to each several being, and elevates 
to Its permitted contemplation and communion and 
likeness, those holy minds, who, as far as is lawful 
and reverent, strive after It, and who are neither im- 
potently boastful towards that which is higher than 
the harmoniously imparted Divine manifestation, nor, 
in regard to a lower level, lapse downward through 
their inclining to the worse, but who elevate them- 
selves determinately and unwaveringly to the ray 
shining upon them ; and, by their proportioned love 

4 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

of permitted illuminations, are elevated with a holy 
reverence, prudently and piously, as on new wings. 

Section III. 
Following then, these, the supremely Divine stand- 
ards, which also govern the whole holy ranks of the 
supercelestial orders, — whilst honouring the unre- 
vealed of the Godhead which is beyond mind and 
matter, with inscrutable and holy reverence of mind, 
and things unutterable, with a prudent silence, we 
elevate ourselves to the glories which illuminate us 
in the sacred Oracles, and are led by their light to 
the supremely Divine Hymns, by which we are 
supermundanely enlightened and moulded to the 
sacred Songs of Praise, so as both to see the su- 
premely Divine illuminations given to us by them, 
according to our capacities, and to praise the good- 
giving Source of every holy manifestation of light, as 
Itself has taught concerning Itself in the sacred 
Oracles. For instance, that It is cause and origin 
and essence and life of all things j and even of those 
who fall away from It, both recalling and resur- 
rection ; and of those who have lapsed to the per- 
version of the Divine likeness, renewal and reforma- 
tion ; of those who are tossed about in a sort of ir- 
religious unsteadiness, a religious stability ; of those 
who have continued to stand, steadfastness : of those 
who are being conducted to It, a protecting Con- 
ductor ; of those being illuminated, illumination ; of 
those being perfected, source of perfection ; of those 
being deified, source of deification ; of those being 

on Divine Names. 5 

simplified, simplification ; of those being unified, 
unity; of every origin superessentially super-original 
origin ; and of the Hidden, as far as is right, bene- 
ficent communication ; and, in one word, the life of 
the living, and essence of things that be ; of all life and 
essence, origin and cause ; because Its goodness pro- 
duces and sustains things that be, in their being e . 

Section IV. 
These things we have learned from the Divine 
Oracles, and you will find all the sacred Hymnology, 
so to speak, of the Theologians arranging the Names 
of God with a view to make known and praise the 
beneficent progressions of the Godhead. Hence, we 
see in almost every theological treatise the Godhead 
religiously celebrated, both as Monad and unity, on 
account of the simplicity and oneness of Its super- 
natural indivisibility from which, as an unifying 
power, we are unified, and when our divided diver- 
sities have been folded together, in a manner super- 
mundane, we are collected into a godlike unit and 
divinely-imitated union; but, also as Triad, on 
account of the tri-personal manifestation of the 
superessential productiveness, from which all pater- 
nity in heaven and on earth is, and is named ; also, 
as cause of things existing, since all things were 
brought into being on account of Its creative good- 
ness, both wise and good, because all things, whilst 
preserving the properties of their own nature unim- 

e Sia riji/ avTTJs els rb etuai ra tvra irapaKTiK^v kuI (Twox^k^v 

6 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

paired, are filled with every inspired harmony and 
holy comeliness, but pre-eminently, as loving towards 
man, because It truly and wholly shared, in one of Its 
Persons (subsistences), in things belonging to us, 
recalling to Itself and replacing the human extremity, 
out of which, in a manner unutterable, the simplex 
Jesus f was composed, and the Everlasting took 
a temporal duration, and He, Who is superessen- 
tially exalted above every rank throughout all nature, 
became within our nature, whilst retaining the 
unchangeable and unconfused steadfastness of His 
own properties. And whatever other divinely-wrought 
illuminations, conformable to the Oracles, the secret 
tradition of our inspired leaders bequeathed to us for 
our enlightenment, in these also we have been in- 
itiated ; now indeed, according to our capacity, 
through the sacred veils of the loving-kindness 
towards man, made known in the Oracles and hier- 
archical traditions, which envelop things intellectual 
in things sensible, and things superessential in things 
that are; and place forms and shapes around the 
formless and shapeless, and multiply and fashion the 
supernatural and formless simplicity in the variedness 
of the divided symbols; but, then, when we have 
become incorruptible and immortal, and have reached 
the Christlike and most blessed repose, according to 
the Divine saying, we shall be " ever with the Lord," 
fulfilled, through all-pure contemplations, with the 
visible manifestation of God covering us with glory, 
in most brilliant splendours, as the disciples in the 

on Divine Names. 7 

most Divine Transfiguration, and participating in 
His gift of spiritual light, with unimpassioned and 
immaterial mind ; and, even in the union beyond 
conception, through the agnostic and most blessed 
efforts after rays of surpassing brilliancy, in a more 
Divine imitation of the supercelestial minds. For 
we shall be equal to the angels, as the truth of the 
Oracles affirms, and sons of God, being sons of the 
resurrection. But now, to the best of our ability, 
we use symbols appropriate to things Divine, and 
from these again we elevate ourselves, according to 
our degree, to the simple and unified truth of the 
spiritual visions ; and after our every conception of 
things godlike, laying aside our mental energies, we 
cast ourselves, to the best of our ability, towards the 
superessential ray, in which all the terms of every 
kind of knowledge pre-existed in a manner beyond 
expression, which it is neither possible to conceive 
nor express, nor entirely in any way to contemplate, 
on account of Its being pre-eminently above all 
things, and super-unknown, and Its having pre- 
viously contained within Itself, superessentially, the 
whole perfections of all kinds of essential knowledge 
and power, and Its being firmly fixed by Its absolute 
power, above all, even the supercelestial minds. 
For, if all kinds of knowledge are of things existing, 
and are limited to things existing, that, beyond all 
essence, is also elevated above all knowledge. 

Section V. 
And yet, if It is superior to every expression and 
every knowledge, and is altogether placed above 

8 Dionysius the Areopagtte, 

mind and essence, — being such as embraces and 
unites and comprehends and anticipates all things, 
but Itself is altogether incomprehensible to all, and 
of It, there is neither perception nor imagination, 
nor surmise, nor name, nor expression, nor contact, 
nor science ; — in what way can our treatise thoroughly 
investigate the meaning of the Divine Names, when 
the superessential Deity is shewn to be without 
Name, and above Name ? 

But, as we said when we put forth the Theological 
Outlines, it is not possible either to express or to 
conceive what the One, the Unknown, the Super- 
essential self-existing Good is, — I mean the threefold 
Unity, the alike God, and the alike Good. But even 
the unions, such as befit angels, of the holy Powers, 
whether we must call them efforts after, or recep- 
tions from, the super-Unknown and surpassing 
Goodness, are both unutterable and unknown, and 
exist in those angels alone who, above angelic know- 
ledge, are deemed worthy of them. The godlike 
minds (men) made one by these unions, through 
imitation of angels as far as attainable (since it is 
during cessation of every mental energy that such 
an union as this of the deified minds towards the 
super-divine light takes place) celebrate It most ap- 
propriately through the abstraction of all created 
things — enlightened in this matter, truly and super- 
naturally from the most blessed union towards It — 
that It is Cause indeed of all things existing, but 
Itself none of them, as being superessentially elevated 
above all. To none, indeed, who are lovers of the 
Truth above all Truth, is it permitted to celebrate 

on Divine Names. 9 

the supremely-Divine Essentiality— that which is the 
super-subsistence of the super-goodness, — neither as 
word or power, neither as mind or life or essence, 
but as pre-eminently separated from every condition, 
movement, life, imagination, surmise, name, word, 
thought, conception, essence, position, stability, 
union, boundary, infinitude, all things whatever. But 
since, as sustaining source of goodness, by the very 
fact of Its being, It is cause of all things that be, from 
all created things must we celebrate s the benevolent 
Providence of the Godhead ; for all things are both 
around It and for It, and It is before all things, and 
all things in It consist, and by Its being is the pro- 
duction and sustenance of the whole, and all things 
aspire to It— the intellectual and rational, by means 
of knowledge— things inferior to these, through the 
senses, and other things by living movement, or 
substantial and habitual aptitude. 

Section VI. 

The theologians, having knowledge of this, cele- 
brate It, both without Name and from every Name. 
Without name, as when they say that the Godhead 
Itself, in one of those mystical apparitions of the 
symbolical Divine manifestation, rebuked him who 
said, "What is thy name?" and as leading him 
away from all knowledge of the Divine Name, said 
this, " and why dost thou ask my Name ? " and this 
(Name) " is wonderful." 

And is not this in reality the wonderful Name, 

8 in TrixvTwv rS>v alriarwv v/xv7)T60P. 

io Dionysius the Areopagite, 

that which is above every Name — the Nameless— that 
fixed above every name which is named, whether in 
this age or in that which is to come ? Also, as 
"many named," as when they again introduce It as 
saying, " I am He, Who is— the Life— the Light— the 
God — the Truth." And when the wise of God them- 
selves celebrate Him, as Author of all things, under 
many Names, from all created things— as Good— as 
Beautiful — as Wise— as Beloved— as God of gods— 
as Lord of lords— as Holy of Holies — as Eternal — as 
Being— as Author of Ages— as Provider of Life— as 
Wisdom— as Mind— as Word— as Knowing— as pre- 
eminently possessing all the treasures of all know- 
ledge — as Power — as Powerful — as King of kings— 
as Ancient of days — as never growing old — and Un- 
changeable — as Preservation — as Righteousness — as 
Sanctification — as Redemption — as surpassing all 
things in greatness — and as in a gentle breeze. — Yea, 
they also say that He is in minds, and in souls, and 
in bodies, and in heaven and in earth, and at once, 
the same in the same — in the world — around the 
world — above the world — supercelestial, superessen- 
tial, sun, , star — fire — water — spirit — dew — cloud — 
self-hewn stone and rock — all things existing — and 
not one of things existing. 

Section VII. 

Thus, then, the "Nameless" befits the cause 

of all, which is also above all, as do all the names 

of things existing, in order that there may be strictly 

a kingly rule over the whole; and that all things 

on Divine Names. 1 1 

may be around It and dependent upon It, as cause, 
as beginning, as end. And Itself, according to the 
Divine saying, may be the " all in all," and truly 
sung as of all, producing, directing and perfecting and 
sustaining guard, and shrine, and turning towards It- 
self, and that uniformly, irresistibly and pre-eminently. 
For It is not only cause of sustenance, or life, or per- 
fection,— so that from this or that forethought alone 
the Goodness above Name should be named, but It 
previously embraced in Itself all things existing, abso- 
lutely and without limit, by the complete benefactions 
of His one and all-creating forethought, and by all 
created things in joint accord It is celebrated and 


Section VIII. 

Further also, the Theologians do not honour alone 
the Names of God which are given from universal or 
particular Providences, or objects of His forethought ; 
but also from certain occasional Divine Visions, in 
the sacred temples or elsewhere, which enlightened 
the initiated or the Prophets, they name the surpas- 
sing bright Goodness which is above Name, after one 
or other causes and powers, and clothe It in forms 
and shapes of man, or fire, or electron, and celebrate 
Its eyes and ears, and locks of hair, and countenance, 
and hands, and back, and wings, and arms, and hinder 
parts and feet. Also they assign to It crowns h and 
seats, and drinking vessels and bowls, and certain 
other things mystical, concerning which, in our Sym- 
bolic Theology, we will speak as best we can. But 

h Letter to Titus. 

1 2 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

now, collecting from the Oracles so much as serves 
the purpose of our present treatise, and using the 
things aforesaid, as a kind of Canon, and keeping our 
eyes upon them, let us advance to the unfolding of 
the Names of God, which fall within the range of our 
understanding, and, what the hierarchical rule always 
teaches us throughout every phase of theology, let us 
become initiated (to speak authoritatively) in the 
godlike contemplations with a god-enlightened con- 
ception. And let us bring religious ears to the 
unfoldings of the Holy Names of God, implanting 
the Holy in the Holy, according to the Divine 
tradition, and removing it from the laughter and 
jeers of the uninitiated ; yea, rather, if certain men 
really are such, purifying them from their fighting 
against God in this matter. Be it thine, then, to 
guard these things, O excellent Timothy, according 
to the most holy leading, and to make the things 
Divine neither spoken nor known to the uninitiated. 
For myself, may Almighty God give me to celebrate, 
in a manner worthy of God, the numerous beneficent 
Names of the uncalled and unnamed Deity ; and 
may He not take away a word of truth from my 


Section I. 

Concerning common and distinctive theology, and 

what is the Divine Unioti and distinction. 

Let then the self-existent Goodness be sung from 

the Oracles as defining and manifesting the whole 

on Divine Names. 13 

supremely-Divine-Subsistence in its essential nature. 
For, what else is there to, learn from the sacred 
theology, when it affirms that the Godhead Itself, 
leading the way, says, "Why dost thou ask me 
concerning the Good? — None is Good except God 
alone." Now, this, we have thoroughly demon- 
strated elsewhere, that always, all the God-becoming 
Names of God, are celebrated by the Oracles, not 
partitively, but as applied to the whole and entire 
and complete and full Godhead, and that all of them 
are referred impartitively, absolutely, unreservedly, 
entirely, to all the Entirety of the entirely complete 
and every Deity. And verily as we have mentioned 
in the Theological Outlines, if any one should say 
that this is not spoken concerning the whole Deity, 
he blasphemes, and dares, without right, to cleave 
asunder the super-unified Unity. 

We must affirm, then, that this is to be received 
respecting the whole Deity. For even the essen- 
tially Good Word Himself said, "I am Good 1 ." 
And a certain one of the God-rapt Prophets cele- 
brates the Spirit as "the GoodJ." And again this, 
" I am He, Who is k ." If they shall say that this is 
said, not of the whole Deity, but should violently 
limit it to one part, how will they understand this ? 
" These things, saith He, Who is, Who was, Who is 
to come, the Almighty V and " Thou art the same m ," 
and this, " Spirit of truth, which is, which proceedeth 
from the Father n ." And if they say that the su- 
premely Divine Life is not coextensive with the 

» Matt. xx. 15. J Neh. ix. 20. k Ex. iii. 14. 

1 Rev. i. 8. m Heb. i. 12. n John xv. 26. 

J 4 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

whole, how is the sacred Word true which said, 
" As the Father raiseth the dead and maketh alive, 
so also the Son maketh alive whom He will °," and 
that "the Spirit is He, Who maketh alive p ?" But, 
that the whole Deity holds the Lordship over the 
whole, one can scarcely say, as I think how many 
times, in reference to the Paternal Deity, or the 
Filial, the word "Lord" is repeated in the Word 
of God, as applied to Father and Son \ But the 
Spirit also is Lord r . And "the beautiful and the 
wise" are also sung respecting the whole Deity. 
And the light, and the deifying, and the cause, 
and whatever pertains to the whole Godhead, the 
Oracles introduce into all the supremely Divine 
hymnody— collectively, when they say "all things 
are from Almighty God ; " but, specifically, as when 
they say, "all things were made through Him and 
to Him," and "all things in Him consist," and 
" Thou shalt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall 
be made." And, that one may speak summarily, 
the supremely Divine Word Himself said, " I and 
the Father are One," and "all that the Father hath 
are Mine," and, "All Mine are Thine, and Thine, 
Mine" And again, whatever pertains to the Father 
and Himself, He attributes to the supremely Divine 
Spirit, collectively and in common— the works of 
God — the homage, the fontal and ceaseless cause 
and the distribution of the goodly gifts. And I 
think, none of those, who have been nourished in 
the Divine Oracles with unprejudiced conceptions, 

John v. 21. p lb. vi. 63. 1 1 Cor. i. 30. 

r 2 Cor. iii. 17. 

on Divine Names. 1 5 

will oppose this, that all things befitting God belong 

to the whole Godhead, according to the divinely 

perfect Word. Since, then, we have demonstrated 

and defined these things from the Oracles, — here 

indeed partially, but elsewhere sufficiently — we will 

undertake to unfold every Divine Name whatsoever, 

which is to be received as referring to the whole 


Section II. 

But if any one should say that we introduce 
in so doing a confusion, in disparagement of the 
distinction which befits God, we do not think that 
such a statement as this is itself sufficient to con- 
vince that it is true. For, if there is any one who 
has placed himself entirely in opposition to the 
Oracles, he will be also entirely apart from our 
philosophy; and, if he has no care for the divine 
Wisdom of the Oracles, how shall we care for his 
guidance to the theological science? But, if he 
regards the truth of the Oracles, we also, using this 
canon and illumination, will advance unwaveringly 
to the answer, as best we can, by affirming that 
theology transmits some things as common, but 
others as distinctive ; and neither is it meet to divide 
the common, nor to confuse the distinctive; but 
that following It according to our ability, we ought 
to rise to the Divine splendours ; for, by taking 
thence the Divine revelations, as a most excellent 
canon of truth, we strive to guard the things lying 
there, in their native simplicity and integrity and 
identity— being ourselves guarded in our guard of 

1 6 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

the Oracles, and from these receiving strength to 
guard those who guard them. 

Section III. 
The (Names) then, common to the whole Deity, 
as we have demonstrated from the Oracles, by many 
instances in the Theological Outlines, are the Super- 
Good, the Super-God, the Superessential, the Super- 
Living, the Super-Wise, and whatever else belongs 
to the superlative abstraction ; with which also, all 
those denoting Cause, the Good, the Beautiful, the 
Being, the Life-producing, the Wise, and whatever 
Names are given to the Cause of all Good, from 
His goodly gifts. But the distinctive Names are 
the superessential name and property of Father 
and Son and Spirit, since no interchange or com- 
munity in these is in any way introduced. But there 
is a further distinction, viz., the complete and un- 
altered existence of Jesus amongst us, and all the 
mysteries of love towards man actually existing 
within it. 

Section IV. 

But it is rather necessary, I suppose, to resume 
and to set forth the complete fashion of the Divine 
union and distinction, in order that the whole dis- 
course may be seen at a glance to reject everything 
ambiguous and indistinct, and to define critically 
a.and distinctly the proper Names, as far as possible, 
think-, as I said elsewhere, the sacred instructors of 
the Divpological tradition call the " Divine Unions " 
John vH and unrevealed sublimities of the super- 

on Divine Names. 17 

unutterable and super-unknown Isolation; but the 
" distinctions," the goodly progressions and manifes- 
tations of the Godhead ; and, following the sacred 
Oracles, they mention also properties of the aforesaid 
"Union;" and again of the distinction, that there 
are certain specific unions and distinctions. For 
example, with regard to the Divine Union, that 
is, the Superessentiality, there is kindred and com- 
mon to the One-springing Triad, the superessential 
sustaining Source, the super-Divine Deity, the super- 
good Goodness, the supreme identity of the whole 
supreme Idiosyncrasy, the Oneness above source 
of one ; the Unspeakable ; the Much-speaking, the 
Agnosia, the Comprehended by all, the Placing 
of all, the Abstraction of all, that which is above 
all affirmation and abstraction, the abiding and 
steadfastness in each other, if I may so speak, 
wholly super-united and in no part commingled 
of the One-springing Persons, just as lights of 
lamps (to use sensible illustrations familiar to our 
capacity), when in one house, are both wholly dis- 
tinct in each other throughout, and keep the distinc- 
tion from each other specifically and perfectly main- 
tained, being one in distinction and distinct in 
union ; and then, indeed, we may see in a house, 
in which are many lamps, the lights of all united 
to form one certain light and lighting up one com- 
bined 8 radiance ; and, as I suppose, no one would 
be able to distinguish in the air containing all the 
lights the light of one or other lamp from the rest, 

• aSiaKpiTov, 

1 8 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

and to see one without the other, since whole in 
whole are mixed together without being mingled. 
But, if any one were to take out from the chamber 
one particular burner, the whole light belonging 
to it will depart with it ; no particle of the other 
lights being drawn along with it, nor any of its own 
light left with the other. For there was, as I said, 
the complete union of all with all, unmingled through- 
out, and in no part confused, and this actually in 
a body, the air, the light even itself being dependent 
on the material fire. Whence we affirm that the 
superessential Union is fixed above not only the 
unions in bodies, but also above those in souls them- 
selves, and in minds themselves, which, in a manner 
unmingled and supermundane, the Godlike and super- 
celestial Illuminations, whole through whole, possess, 
as beseems a participation analagous to those who 
participate in the Union elevated above all. 

Section V. 
But there is a distinction in the superessential 
nomenclature of God, not only that which I have 
mentioned, namely, that each of the One-springing 
Persons is fixed in the union itself, unmingled and 
unconfused ; but also that the properties of the 
superessential Divine Production are not conver- 
tible in regard to one another. The Father is sole 
Fountain of the superessential Deity, since the 
Father is not Son, nor the Son, Father; since the 
hymns reverently guard their own characteristics for 
each of the supremely Divine Persons. These then 

on Divine Names. 1 9 

are the unions and distinctions within the unutterable 
Union and sustaining Source. But, if the goodly 
progression of the Divine Union,, multiplying itself 
super-uniquely through Goodness, and taking to 
itself many forms, is also a Divine distinction, yet, 
common within the Divine distinction, are the re- 
sistless distributions, the substance-giving, the life- 
giving, the wise-making, and the other gifts of the 
Goodness, Cause of all, after which from the par- 
ticipations and those participating are celebrated 
the things imparticipatively participated. And this 
is kindred and common, and one, to the whole 
Divinity, that it is all entire, participated by each 
of the Participants, and by none partially. Just 
as a point in a circle's centre participates in all 
the circumjacent* straight lines in the circle, and 
as many impressions of a seal participate in the 
archetypal seal, and in each of the impressions 
the seal is whole and the same, and in none partial 
in any respect. But superior to these is the im- 
partibility of the Deity — Cause of all — from the fact 
that there is no contact with it. Nor has it any 
commingled communion with the things partici- 

Section VI. 

And yet some one might say the seal is not whole 
and the same in the images throughout. But of 
this the seal is not the cause, for it imparts itself 
all and the same to each ; but the difference of the 
recipients makes the figures dissimilar, since the 
1 The radii. 

20 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

archetype is one and complete and the same. For 
instance, if the wax were soft and impressionable, 
and smooth and unstamped, and neither unimpres- 
sionable and hard, nor running and dissolving, it 
will have the figure clear and sharp and fixed. But 
if it should lack any of the aforesaid aptitudes, this 
will be the cause of the non-participative and un- 
figured and indistinct, and whatever else arises from 
inaptitude for reception. Further, there is a dis- 
tinction from the goodly work of God towards us, 
in that the superessential Word was invested with 
being amongst us— from us — wholly and truly, and 
did and suffered whatever things are choice and 
pre-eminent in His human work of God u . For in 
these, the Father and the Spirit in no respect com- 
municated, except perhaps, one might say, as regards 
the benign and philanthropic purpose, and as regards 
all the pre-eminent and unutterable work of God 
which the unchangeable, qua God and Word of God, 
did when He had been born amongst us. Thus 
we, too, strive to unite and distinguish in the Word 
the things Divine, as the things Divine themselves 
are united and distinguished. 

Section VII. 
Now we have set forth in the Theological Outlines 
whatever Divine Causes we have found in the 
Oracles, of these unions, and distinctions, by treat- 
ing each separately, according to our ability; by 
explaining some things, by the infallible Word, and 

n ttjj iLvBpwiriKrjs ainov Oeovpytas. 

on Divine Names. 2 1 

unfolding them; and by conducting the religious 
and unpolluted mind to the bright visions of the 
Oracles ; but others, as being full of mystery, by ap- 
proaching them according to the Divine tradition, 
which is superior to mental energy. For all the 
Divine properties, even those revealed to us, are 
known by the participations alone ; and themselves, 
such as they are in their own source and abode, are 
above mind and all essence and knowledge. For 
instance, if we have named the superessential Hid- 
denness, God, or Life, or Essence, or Light, or Word 
(\6yos), we have no other thought than that the 
powers brought to us from It are deifying, or 
essentiating, or life-bearing, or wisdom-imparting; 
but to Itself we approach during the cessation of all 
the intellectual energies, seeing no deification, or life, 
or essence whatever, such as is strictly like the Cause 
pre-eminently elevated above all. Again, that the 
Father is fontal Deity, but the Lord Jesus and the 
Spirit are, if one may so speak, God-planted shoots, 
and as it were Flowers and superessential Lights of 
the God-bearing Deity, we have received from the 
holy Oracles ; but how these things are, it is neither 
possible to say, nor to conceive. 

Section VIII. 
But. up to this point, our utmost power of mental 
energy carries us, namely, that all divine paternity 
and sonship have been bequeathed from the Source 
of paternity and Source of sonship— pre-eminent 
above all— both to us and to the supercelestial 

22 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

powers, from which the godlike become both gods, 
and sons of gods, and fathers of gods, and are 
named Minds, such a paternity and sonship being 
of course accomplished spiritually, i.e. incorporeally, 
immaterially, intellectually— since the supremely 
Divine Spirit is seated above all intellectual imma- 
teriality, and deification, and the Father and the 
Son are pre-eminently elevated above all divine pater- 
nity and sonship. For there is no strict likeness, 
between the caused and the causes. The caused 
indeed possess the accepted likenesses of the causes, 
but the causes themselves are elevated and estab- 
lished above the caused, according to the ratio of 
their proper origin. And, to use illustrations suit- 
able to ourselves, pleasures and pains are said to be 
productive of pleasure and pain, but these them- 
selves feel neither pleasure nor pain. And fire, 
whilst heating and burning, is not said to be burnt 
and heated. And, if any one should say that the self- 
existent Life lives, or that the self-existent Light is 
enlightened, in my view he will not speak correctly, 
unless, perhaps, he should say this after another 
fashion, that the properties of the caused are abun- 
dantly and essentially pre-existent in the causes. 

Section IX. 
Further also, the most conspicuous fact of all 
theology— the God-formation of Jesus amongst us— 
is both unutterable by every expression and unknown 
to every mind, even to the very foremost of the most 
reverend angels. The fact indeed that He took sub- 

on Divine Names. 23 

stance as man, we have received as a mystery, but 
we do not know in what manner, from virginal 
bloods, by a different law, beyond nature, He was 
formed, and how, with dry feet, having a bodily bulk 
and weight of matter, He marched upon the liquid 
and unstable substance x ; and so, with regard to all 
the other features of the super-physical physiology of 
Jesus. Now, we have elsewhere sufficiently spoken 
of these things, and they have been celebrated by 
our illustrious leader, in his Theological Ele7tients, in 
a manner far beyond natural ability — things which 
that illustrious man acquired, either from the sacred 
theologians, or comprehended from the scientific 
search of the Oracles, from manifold struggles and 
investigations respecting the same, or was instructed 
from a sort of more Divine Inspiration, not only 
having learnt, but having felt the pangs of things 
Divine, and from his sympathy with them, if I may 
so speak, having been perfected to their untaught 
and mystic union and acceptance. And that we 
may display, in fewest words, the many and blessed 
visions of his most excellent intelligence, the follow- 
ing are the things he says, concerning the Lord 
Jesus, in the Theological Elements compiled by him. 

Section X. 
From the Theological Elements of the most holy 

Deity of the Lord Jesus, — the Cause and Com- 
pleting of all, which preserves the parts concordant 

x Letter IV. 

24 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

with the whole, and is neither part nor whole, and 
whole and part, as embracing in Itself everything 
both part and whole, and being above and before — 
is perfect indeed in the imperfect, as source of per- 
fection, but imperfect in the perfect, as superperfect, 
and pre-perfect — Form producing form, in things 
without form, as Source of form — formless in the 
forms, as above form, — Essence, penetrating without 
stain the essences throughout, and superessential, 
exalted above every essence— setting bounds to the 
whole principalities and orders, and established 
above every principality and order. It is measure 
also of things existing, and age, and above age, and 
before age— full, in things that need, superfull in 
things full, unutterable, unspeakable, above mind, 
above life, above essence. It has the supernatural, 
supernaturally,— the superessential, superessentially. 
Hence, since through love towards man, He has 
come even to nature, and really became substantial, 
and the Super-God lived as Man r (may He be mer- 
ciful with regard to the things we are celebrating, 
which are beyond mind and expression), and in these 
He has the supernatural and super-substantial, not 
only in so far as He communicated with us without 
alteration and without confusion, suffering no loss 
as regards His superfulness, from His unutterable 
emptying of Himself— but also, because the newest 
of all new things, He was in our physical condition 
super-physical — in things substantial, super-substan- 
tial, excelling all the things — of us — from us — 
above us. 

t Letter IV. 

on Divine Names. 25 

Section XL 
This then is sufficient on these matters, let us now 
advance to the purpose of the discourse by unfolding, 
to the best of our ability, the kindred and common 
Names of the Divine distinction. And, in order 
that we may first distinctly define everything, in 
order, we call Divine distinction, as we have said, 
the goodly progressions of the Godhead. For, by 
being given to all things existing, and pouring forth 
the whole imparted goods in abundance, It is dis- 
tinguished uniformly, and multiplied uniquely, and 
is moulded into many from the One, whilst being 
self-centred. For example, since Almighty God is 
superessentially Being, but the Being is bequeathed 
to things being, and produces the whole Essences ; 
that One Being is said to be fashioned in many forms, 
by the production from Itself of the many beings, 
whilst It remains undiminished, and One in the mul- 
tiplicity, and Unified during the progression, and 
complete in the distinction, both by being super- 
essentially exalted above all beings, and by the 
unique production of the whole ; and by the un- 
lessened stream of His undiminished distributions. 
Further, being One, and having distributed the One, 
both to every part and whole, both to one and to 
multitude, He is One, as it were, superessentially, 
being neither a part of the multitude, nor whole 
from parts ; and thus is neither one, nor partakes of 
one, nor has the one. But, beyond these, He is 
One, above the one, to things existing — One, and 
multitude indivisible, unfilled superfulness, producing 

2 6 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

and perfecting and sustaining every one thing and 
multitude. Again, by the Deification from Itself, by 
the Divine likeness of many who become gods, ac- 
cording to their several capacity, there seems, and is 
said to be, a distinction and multiplication of the 
One God, but He is none the less the Supreme 
God, and super-God, superessentially One God,— 
undivided in things divided, unified in Himself, both 
unmingled and unmultiplied in the many. And 
when the common conductor of ourselves, and of 
our leader to the Divine gift of light,- he, who is 
great in Divine mysteries— the light of the world- 
had thought out this in a manner above natural 
ability, — he speaks as follows, from the inspiration of 
God, in his sacred writings—" For, even if there are 
who are called gods, whether in heaven or upon 
earth, as there are gods many and lords many ; but 
to us there is One God, the Father, from Whom are 
all things, and we unto Him,— and One Lord Jesus 
Christ, through Whom are all things, and we, through 
Him z ." For, with regard to things Divine, the unions 
overrule the distinctions, and precede them, and are 
none the less unified, even after the self-centred and 
unified distinction. These, the mutual and common 
distinctions, or rather the goodly progressions of the 
whole Deity, we will endeavour to the best of 
our ability to celebrate from the Names of God, 
which make them known in the Oracles; — first, 
having laid down, as we have said, that every bene- 
ficent Name of God, to whichever of the supremely 
1 I Cor. viii. 5, 6. 

on Divine Names. 2 7 

Divine Persons it may be applied, is to be under- 
stood with reference to the whole Supremely Divine 
wholeness unreservedly. 


What is the power of prayer, and concerning the 
blessed Hierotheus, and concerning reverence and 
covena?ii in the Word of God. 
Section I. 
First, with your permission, let us examine the 
all-perfect Name of Goodness, which is indicative 
of the whole progressions of Almighty God, having 
invoked the supremely good, and super-good Triad— 
the Name which indicates Its whole best Provi- 
dences. For, we must first be raised up to It, 
as Source of good, by our prayers ; and by a nearer 
approach to It, be initiated as to the all good gifts 
which are established around It. For It is indeed 
present to all, but all are not present to It. But 
then, when we have invoked It, by all pure prayers 
and unpolluted mind, and by our aptitude towards 
Divine Union, we also are present to It. For, It is 
not in a place, so that It should be absent from 
a particular place, or should pass from one to 
another. But even the statement that It is in all 
existing beings, falls short of Its infinitude (which is) 
above all, and embracing all. Let us then elevate 
our very selves by our prayers to the higher ascent 
of the Divine and good rays,— as if a luminous 
chain being suspended from the celestial heights, 

28 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

and reaching down hither, we, by ever clutching 
this upwards, first with one hand, and then with 
the other, seem indeed to draw it down, but 
in reality we do not draw it down, it being both 
above and below, but ourselves are carried up- 
wards to the higher splendours of the luminous 
rays. Or, as if, after we have embarked on a ship, 
and are holding on to the cables reaching from some 
rock, such as are given out, as it were, for us to 
seize, we do not draw the rock to us, but ourselves, 
in fact, and the ship, to the rock. Or to take 
another example, if any one standing on the ship 
pushes away the rock by the sea shore, he will do 
nothing to the stationary and unmoved rock, but 
he separates himself from it, and in proportion 
as he pushes that away, he is so far hurled from it. 
Wherefore, before everything, and especially theology, 
we must begin with prayer, not as though we our- 
selves were drawing the power, which is everywhere 
and nowhere present, but as, by our godly reminis- 
cences and invocations, conducting ourselves to, 
and making ourselves one with, it. 

Section II. 
Perhaps also, this is worthy of apology, that whilst 
our illustrious leader, Hierotheus, is compiling his 
Theological Elements, in a manner above natural 
capacity, we, as if those were not sufficient, have 
composed others, and this present theological treatise. 
And yet, if that man had deigned to treat systemati- 
cally all the theological treatises, and had gone 

on Divine Names. 29 

through the sum of all theology, by detailed ex- 
positions, we should not have gone to such a height 
of folly, or stupidity, as to have attempted alone 
theological questions, either more lucidly or divinely 
than he, or to indulge in vain talk by saying super- 
fluously the same things twice over, and in addition 
to do injustice to one, both teacher and friend, and 
that we, who have been instructed from his dis- 
courses, after Paul the Divine, should filch for our 
own glorification his most illustrious contemplation 
and elucidation. But, since in fact, he, whilst 
teaching things divine, in a manner suitable to 
presbyters, set forth comprehensive definitions, and 
such as embraced many things in one, as were 
suitable to us, and to as many as with us were 
teachers of the newly-initiated souls, commanding us 
to unfold and disentangle, by language commen- 
surate with our ability, the comprehensive and 
uniform compositions of the most intellectual ca- 
pacity of that illustrious man ; and you, yourself, 
have oftentimes urged us to this, and sent back 
the very book, as being of transcendent value ; 
for this reason, then, we too distinguish him as 
a teacher of perfect and presbyterial conceptions 
for those who are above the common people, even 
as certain second Oracles, and next to the Anointed 
of God. But for people, such as we are, we will 
transmit things Divine, according to our capacity. 
For, if strong meat belongs to the perfect, how great 
perfection is required that the same should feed 
others. Correctly, then, we have affirmed this, that 

30 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

the self-perceptive vision of the intelligible Oracles, 
and their comprehensive teaching, needs presbyterial 
power; but the science and the thorough teaching 
of the reasons which lead to this, fittingly belong 
to those purified and hallowed persons placed in 
a subordinate position. And yet, we have insisted 
upon this with the utmost care, that, as regards 
the things that have been thoroughly investigated 
by him, our divine leader, with an accurate elucida- 
tion, we should not, in any way, handle the same 
tautologically, for the same elucidation of the Divine 
text expounded by him. For, amongst our inspired 
hierarchs (when both we, as you know, and yourself, 
and many of our holy brethren, were gathered 
together to the depositing a of the Life-springing and 
God-receptive body, and when there were present 
also James, the brother of God, and Peter, the 
foremost and most honoured pinnacle of the Theo- 
logians, when it was determined after the depositing, 
that every one of the hierarchs should celebrate, 
as each was capable, the Omnipotent Goodness 
of the supremely Divine Weakness), he, after the 
Theologians, surpassed, as you know, all the other 
divine instructors, being wholly entranced, wholly 
raised from himself, and experiencing the pain of 
his fellowship with the things celebrated, and was 
regarded as an inspired and divine Psalmist by all, 
by whom he was heard and seen and known, and 
not known. And why should I say anything to thee 
concerning the things there divinely spoken? For, 

» ix\ tt\v deiav. 

on Divine Names. 3 1 

if I do not forget myself, many a time do I remember 
to have heard from thee certain portions of those 
inspired songs of praise; such was thy zeal, not 
cursorily, to pursue things Divine. 

Section III. 
But to pass over the mystical things there, both 
as forbidden to the multitude and as known to thee, 
when it was necessary to communicate to the multi- 
tude, and to bring as many as possible to the sacred 
knowledge amongst ourselves, he so excelled the 
majority of sacred teachers, both by use of time and 
purity of mind, and accuracy of demonstrations, and 
by his other sacred discourses, that we should 
scarcely have dared to look so great a sun straight 
in the face. For we are thus far conscious in our- 
selves, and know, that we may neither advance to 
understand sufficiently the intelligible of Divine 
things, nor to express and declare the things spoken 
of the divine knowledge. For, being far removed 
from the skill of those divine men, as regards theolo- 
gical truth, we are so inferior that we should have, 
through excessive reverence, entirely come to this — 
neither to hear nor to speak anything respecting divine 
philosophy, unless we had grasped in our mind, 
that we must not neglect the knowledge of things 
divine received by us. And to this we were per- 
suaded, not only by the innate aspirations of the 
minds which always lovingly cling to the permitted 
contemplation of the supernatural, but also by the 
most excellent order itself of the Divine institutions, 

3 2 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

which prohibits us, on the one hand, from much 
inquisition into things above us, as above our 
degree, and as unattainable ; yet, on the other hand, 
persistently urges us to graciously impart to others 
also whatever is permitted and given to us to learn. 
Yielding then to these considerations, and neither 
shirking nor flinching from the attainable discovery 
of things Divine, but also not bearing to leave 
unassisted those who are unable to contemplate 
things too high for us, we have brought ourselves 
to composition, not daring indeed to introduce any- 
thing new, but by more easy and more detailed 
expositions to disentangle and elucidate the things 
spoken by the Hierotheus indeed. 


Concerning Good, Light, Beauty, Love, Ecstasy, 
Jealousy, and that the Evil is neither existent, nor 
from existent, nor in things being. 

Section I. 

Be it so then. Let us come to the appellation 
" Good," already mentioned in our discourse, which 
the Theologians ascribe pre-eminently and exclusively 
to the super-Divine Deity, as I conjecture, by calling 
the supremely Divine Subsistence, Goodness ; and 
because the Good, as essential Good, by Its being, 
extends Its Goodness to all things that be. 

For, even as our sun — not as calculating orchoos- 
ing, but by its very being, enlightens all things able 

on Divine Names. 33 

to partake of its light in their own degree — so too 
the Good — as superior to a sun, as the archetype par 
excellence, is above an obscure image — by Its very 
existence sends to all things that be, the rays of Its 
whole goodness, according to their capacity. By 
reason of these (rays) subsisted all the intelligible 
and intelligent essences and powers and energies. 
By reason of these they are, and have their life, con- 
tinuous and undiminished, purified from all corrup- 
tion and death and matter, and generation; and 
separated from the unstable and fluctuating and 
vacillating mutability, and are conceived of as in- 
corporeal and immaterial, and as minds they think 
in a manner supermundane, and are illuminated as to 
the reasons of things, in a manner peculiar to them- 
selves ; and they again convey to their kindred 
spirits things appropriate to them ; and they have 
their abiding from Goodness ; and thence comes to 
them stability and consistence and protection, and 
sanctuary of good things; and whilst aspiring to It, 
they have both being and good being ; and being 
conformed to It, as is attainable, they are both 
patterns of good, and impart to those after them, 
as the Divine Law directs, the gifts which have passed 
through to themselves from the Good. 

Section II. 
Thence come to them the supermundane orders, 
the unions amongst themselves, the mutual penetra- 
tions, the unconfused distinctions, the powers ele- 
vating the inferior to the superior, the providences 


34 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

of the more exalted for those below them ; the guard- 
ings of things pertaining to each power; and un- 
broken convolutions around themselves ; the identities 
and sublimities around the aspiration after the Good ; 
and whatever is said in our Treatise concerning the 
angelic properties and orders. Further also, whatever 
things belong to the heavenly Hierarchy, the purifi- 
cations befitting angels, the supermundane illumina- 
tions, and the tilings perfecting the whole angelic 
perfection, are from the all-creative and fontal Good- 
ness ; from which was given to them the form of 
Goodness, and the revealing in themselves the hidden 
Goodness, and that angels are, as it were, heralds 
of the Divine silence, and project, as it were, 
luminous lights revealing Him Who is in secret. 
Further, after these — the sacred and holy minds — the 
souls, and whatever is good in souls is by reason of 
the super-good Goodness — the fact that they are intel- 
lectual—that they have essential life — indestructible — 
the very being itself — and that they are able, whilst 
elevated themselves to the angelic lives, to be con- 
ducted by them as good guides to the good Origin 
of all good things, and to become partakers of the 
illuminations, thence bubbling forth, according to the 
capacity of each, and to participate in the goodlike 
gift, as they are able, and whatever else we have 
enumerated in our Treatise concerning the soul. 
But also, if one may be permitted to speak of the 
irrational souls, or living creatures, such as cleave 
the air, and such as walk on earth, and such as 
creep along earth, and those whose life is in waters, 

on Divine Names. 35 

or amphibious, and such as live concealed under 
earth, and burrow within it, and in one word, such as 
have the sensible soul or life, even all these have their 
soul and life, by reason of the Good. Moreover, all 
plants have their growing and moving life from the 
Good ; and even soulless and lifeless substance is by 
reason of the Good, and by reason of It, has in- 
herited its substantial condition. 

Section III. 
But, if the Good is above all things being, as 
indeed it is, and formulates the formless, even in 
Itself alone, both the non-essential is a pre-eminence 
of essence, and the non-living is a superior life, and 
the mindless a superior wisdom, and whatever is in 
the Good is of a superlative formation of the form- 
less, and if one may venture to say so, even the non- 
existent itself aspires to the Good above all things 
existing, and struggles somehow to be even itself 
in the Good, — the really Superessential — to the ex- 
clusion of all things. 

Section IV. 
But what slipped from our view in the midst of 
our discourse, the Good is Cause of the celestial 
movements in their commencements and termin- 
ations, of their not increasing, not diminishing, and 
completely changeless, course b , and of the noiseless 
movements, if one may so speak, of the vast celestial 
transit, and of the astral orders, and the beauties and 

b cupulas. 

36 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

lights, and stabilities, and the progressive swift 
motion of certain stars, and of the periodical return 
of the two luminaries, which the Oracles call "great," 
from the same to the same quarter, after which our 
days and nights being marked, and months and 
years being measured, mark and number and arrange 
and comprehend the circular movements of time 
and things temporal. But, what would any one say 
of the very ray of the sun ? For the light is from the 
Good, and an image of the Goodness, wherefore also 
the Good is celebrated under the name of Light ; as 
in a portrait the original is manifested. For, as the 
goodness of the Deity, beyond all, permeates from 
the highest and most honoured substances even 
to the lowest, and yet is above all, neither the fore- 
most outstripping its superiority, nor the things 
below eluding its grasp, but it both enlightens all 
that are capable, and forms and enlivens, and grasps, 
and perfects, and is measure of things existing, and 
age, and number, and order, and grasp, and cause, 
and end ; so, too, the brilliant likeness of the Divine 
Goodness, this our great sun, wholly bright and 
ever luminous, as a most distant echo of the Good, 
both enlightens whatever is capable of participating 
in it, and possesses the light in the highest degree 
of purity, unfolding to the visible universe, above 
and beneath, the splendours of its own rays, and 
if anything does not participate in them, this is not 
owing to the inertness or deficiency of its distri- 
bution of light, but is owing to the inaptitude for 
light-reception of the things which do not unfold 

on Divine Names. 37 

themselves for the participation of light. No doubt 
the ray passing over many things in such condition, 
enlightens the things after them, and there is no 
visible thing which it does not reach, with the sur- 
passing greatness of its own splendour. Further 
also, it contributes to the generation of sensible 
bodies, and moves them to life, and nourishes, and 
increases, and perfects, and purifies and renews ; 
and the light is both measure and number of hours, 
days, and all our time. For it is the light itself, 
even though it was then without form, which the 
divine Moses declared to have fixed that first Triad c 
of our days. And, just as Goodness turns all things 
to Itself, and is chief collector of things scattered, 
as One-springing and One-making Deity, and all 
things aspire to It, as Source and Bond and End, 
and it is the Good, as the Oracles say, from Which 
all things subsisted, and are being brought into being 
by an all-perfect Cause ; and in Which all things 
consisted, as guarded and governed in an all-con- 
trolling route ; and to Which all things are turned, 
as to their own proper end ; and to Which all aspire 
— the intellectual and rational indeed, through know- 
ledge, and the sensible through the senses, and 
those bereft of sensible perception by the innate 
movement of the aspiration after life, and those with- 
out life, and merely being, by their aptitude for mere 
substantial participation ; after the same method of 
its illustrious original, the light also collects and 
turns to itself all things existing — things with sight 
c See Dulac, Theology anticipates Science. 

38 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

—things with motion— things enlightened— things 
heated— things wholly held together by its brilliant 
splendours— whence also, Helios, because it makes 
all things altogether (doWij), and collects things 
scattered. And all creatures, endowed with sensible 
perceptions, aspire to it, as aspiring either to see, 
or to be moved and enlightened, and heated, and 
to be wholly held together by the light. By no 
means do I affirm, after the statement of antiquity, 
that as being God and Creator of the universe, the 
sun, by itself, governs the luminous world, but 
that the invisible things of God are clearly seen 
from the foundation of the world, being understood 
by the things that are made, even His eternal 
power and Deity. 

Section V. 
But we have spoken of these things in our Sym- 
bolical Theology. Let us now then celebrate the 
spiritual Name of Light, under Which we contem- 
plate the Good, and declare that He, the Good, 
is called spiritual d Light, on the ground that He fills 
every supercelestial mind with spiritual light, and 
expels all ignorance and error from all souls in 
which they may be, and imparts to them all sacred 
light, and cleanses their mental vision from the 
mist which envelops them, from ignorance, and stirs 
up and unfolds those enclosed by the great weight of 
darkness, and imparts, at first, a measured radiance ; 
then, whilst they taste, as it were, the light, and 

d The Greek word is vorirbv, which in connection with <pus 
is rendered here " spiritual light." 

071 Divine Names. 39 

desire it more, more fully gives Itself, and more 
abundantly enlightens them, because " they have 
loved much," and ever elevates them to things in 
advance, as befits the analogy of each for aspiration. 

Section VI. 
The Good then above every light is called spiri- 
tual Light, as fontal ray, and stream of light welling 
over, shining upon every mind, above, around e , and 
in the world, from its fulness, and renewing their 
whole mental powers, and embracing them all by 
its over-shadowing; and being above all by its 
exaltation ; and in one word, by embracing and 
having previously and pre-eminently the whole 
sovereignty of the light-dispensing faculty, as being 
source of light and above all light, and by compre- 
hending in itself all things intellectual, and all things 
rational, and making them one altogether. For 
as ignorance puts asunder those who have gone 
astray, so the presence of the spiritual light is col- 
lective and unifying of those being enlightened, 
]x)th perfecting and further turning them towards 
the true Being, by turning them from the many 
notions and collecting the various views, or, to 
speak more correctly, fancies, into one true, pure 
and uniform knowledge, and by filling them with 
light, one and unifying. 

Section VII. 
This Good is celebrated by the sacred theologians, 
both as beautiful and as Beauty, and as Love, and as 

e See Book of Hierotheus, c. 2. 

40 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

Beloved ; and all the other Divine Names which 
beseem the beautifying and highly-favoured come- 
liness. But the beautiful and Beauty are not to be 
divided, as regards the Cause which has embraced 
the whole in one. For, with regard to all created 
things, by dividing them into participations and 
participants, we call beautiful that which participates 
in Beauty; but beauty, the participation of the 
beautifying Cause of all the beautiful things. But, 
the superessential Beautiful is called Beauty, on 
account of the beauty communicated from Itself to 
all beautiful things, in a manner appropriate to each, 
and as Cause of the good harmony and brightness of 
all things which flashes like light to all the beautifying 
distributions of its fontal ray, and as calling (koKovv) 
all things to Itself (whence also it is called Beauty) 
(kqXXos), and as collecting all in all to Itself. (And 
it is called) Beautiful, as (being) at once beautiful and 
super-beautiful, and always being under the same 
conditions and in the same manner beautiful, and 
neither coming into being nor perishing, neither 
waxing nor waning ; neither in this beautiful, nor in 
that ugly, nor at one time beautiful, and at another 
not; nor in relation to one thing beautiful, and in 
relation to another ugly, nor here, and not there, as 
being beautiful to some, and not beautiful to others ; 
but as Itself, in Itself, with Itself, uniform, always 
being beautiful, and as having beforehand in Itself 
pre-eminently the fontal beauty of everything beau- 
tiful. For, by the simplex and supernatural nature of 
all beautiful things, all beauty, and everything beau- 

on Divine Names. 4 1 

tiful, pre-existed uniquely as to Cause. From this 
Beautiful (comes) being to all existing things, — that 
each is beautiful in its own proper order; and by 
reason of the Beautiful are the adaptations of all things, 
and friendships, and inter-communions, and by the 
Beautiful all things are made one, and the Beautiful 
is origin of all things, as a creating Cause, both by 
moving the whole and holding it together by the love 
of its own peculiar Beauty ; and end of all things, 
and beloved, as final Cause (for all things exist for 
the sake of the Beautiful) and exemplary (Cause), 
because all things are determined according to It. 
Wherefore, also, the Beautiful is identical with the 
Good, because all things aspire to the Beautiful and 
Good, on every account, and there is no existing 
thing which does not participate in the Beautiful and 
the Good. Yea, reason will dare to say even this, 
that even the non-existing participates in the Beautiful 
and Good. For then even it is beautiful and good, 
when in God it is celebrated superessentially to the 
exclusion of all. This, the one Good and Beautiful, 
is uniquely Cause of all the many things beautiful 
and good. From this are all the substantial begin- 
nings of things existing, the unions, the distinctions, 
the identities, the diversities, the similarities, the 
dissimilarities, the communions of the contraries, the 
commingling of things unified, the providences of 
the superior, the mutual cohesions of those of the 
same rank; the attentions of the more needy, the 
protecting and immoveable abidings and stabilities of 
their whole selves and, on the other hand, the com- 

42 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

munions of all things among all, in a manner peculiar 
to each, and adaptations and unmingled friendships 
and harmonies of the whole, the bl endings in the 
whole, and the undissolved connections of existing 
things, the never-failing successions of the generations, 
all rests and movements, of the minds, of the souls, 
of the bodies. For, that which is established above 
every rest, and every movement, and moves each 
thing in the law of its own being to its proper move- 
ment, is a rest and movement to all. 

Section VIII. 
Now, the divine minds f are said to be moved cir- 
cularly indeed, by being united to the illuminations 
of the Beautiful and Good, without beginning and 
without end; but in a direct line, whenever they 
advance to the succour of a subordinate, by accom- 
plishing all things directly; but spirally, because 
even in providing for the more indigent, they remain 
fixedly, in identity, around the good and beautiful 
Cause of their identity, ceaselessly dancing around. 

Section IX. 
Further, there is a movement of soul, circular 
indeed, — the entrance into itself from things without, 
and the unified convolution of its intellectual powers, 
bequeathing to it inerrancy, as it were, in a sort 
of circle, and turning and collecting itself, from the 
many things without, first to itself, then, as having 
become single, uniting with the uniquely unified 
powers, and thus conducting to the Beautiful and 
f Angels. 

on Divine Names. 43 

Good, which is above all things being, and One and 
the Same, and without beginning and without end. 
But a soul is moved spirally, in so far as it is 
illuminated, as to the divine kinds of knowledge, in 
a manner proper to itself, not intuitively and at once, 
but logically and discursively; and, as it were, by 
mingled and relative operations; but in a straight 
line, when, not entering into itself, and being moved 
by unique intuition (for this, as I said, is the 
circular), but advancing to things around itself, and 
from things without, it is, as it were, conducted 
from certain symbols, varied and multiplied, to the 
simple and unified contemplations. 

Section X. 
Of these three motions then in everything per- 
ceptible here below, and much more of the abidings 
and repose and fixity of each, the Beautiful and 
Good, which is above all repose and movement, 
is Cause and Bond and End ; by reason of which, 
and from which, and in which, and towards which, 
and for sake of which, is every repose and move- 
ment. For, both from It and through It is both 
Essence and every life, and both of mind and soul 
and every nature, the minutiae, the equalities, the 
magnitudes, all the standards and the analogies of 
beings, and harmonies and compositions; the en- 
tireties, the parts, every one thing, and multitude, 
the connections of parts, the unions of every multi- 
tude, the perfections of the entireties, the quality, 
the weight, the size, the infinitude, the compounds, 

44 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

the distinctions, every infinitude, every term, all the 
bounds, the orders, the pre-eminences, the elements, 
the forms, every essence, every power, every energy, 
every condition, every sensible perception, every 
reason, every conception, every contact, every 
science, every union, and in one word, all things 
existing are from the Beautiful and Good, and in the 
Beautiful and Good, and turn themselves to the 
Beautiful and Good. 

Moreover, all things whatever, which are and 
come to being, are and come to being by reason 
of the Beautiful and Good; and to It all things 
look, and by It are moved and held together, and 
for the sake of It, and by reason of It, and in It, is 
every source exemplary, final, creative, formative, 
elemental, and in one word, every beginning, every 
bond, every term, or to speak summarily, all things 
existing are from the Beautiful and Good ; and all 
things non-existing are superessentially in the Beauti- 
ful and Good ; and it is of all, beginning and term, 
above beginning and above term, because from It, 
and through It, and in It, and to It, are all things, 
as says the Sacred Word. 

By all things, then, the Beautiful and Good is 
desired and beloved and cherished ; and, by reason 
of It, and for the sake of It, the less love the greater 
suppliantly ; and those of the same rank, their fellows 
brotherly ; and the greater, the less considerately ; 
and these severally love the things of themselves 
continuously; and all things by aspiring to the 
Beautiful and Good, do and wish all things whatever 

on Divine Names. 45 

they do and wish. Further, it may be boldly said 
with truth, that even the very Author of all things, 
by reason of overflowing Goodness, loves all, makes 
all, perfects all, sustains all, attracts all ; and even 
the Divine Love is Good of Good, by reason of the 
Good. For Love itself, the benefactor of things 
that be, pre-existing overflowingly in the Good, did 
not permit itself to remain unproductive in itself, 
but moved itself to creation s, as befits the overflow 
which is generative of all. 

Section XL 
And let no one fancy that we honour the Name 
of Love beyond the Oracles, for it is, in my opinion, 
irrational and stupid not to cling to the force of the 
meaning, but to the mere words ; and this is not the 
characteristic of those who have wished to compre- 
hend things Divine, but of those who receive empty 
sounds and keep the same just at the ears from 
passing through from outside, and are not willing to 
know what such a word signifies, and in what way 
one ought to distinctly represent it, through other 
words of the same force and more explanatory, but 
who specially affect sounds and signs without mean- 
ing, and syllables, and words unknown, which do 
not pass through to the mental part of their soul, 
but buzz without, around their lips and ears, as 
though it were not permitted to signify the number 
four, by twice two, or straight lines by direct lines, 
or motherland by fatherland, or any other, which 
signify the self-same thing, by many parts of speech. 
* Creation through Goodness not necessity. 

46 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

We ought to know, according to the correct 
account, that we use sounds, and syllables, and 
phrases, and descriptions, and words, on account 
of the sensible perceptions ; since when our soul is 
moved by the intellectual energies to the things 
contemplated, the sensible perceptions by aid of 
sensible objects are superfluous ; just as also the 
intellectual powers, when the soul, having become 
godlike, throws itself, through a union beyond know- 
ledge, against the rays of the unapproachable light, 
by sightless efforts. But, when the mind strives to 
be moved upwards, through objects of sense, to 
contemplative conceptions, the clearer interpreta- 
tions are altogether preferable to the sensible per- 
ceptions, and the more definite descriptions are 
things more distinct than things seen ; since when 
objects near are not made clear to the sensible per- 
ceptions, neither will these perceptions be well able 
to present the things perceived to the mind. But 
that we -may not seem, in speaking thus, to be 
pushing aside the Divine Oracles, let those who libel 
the Name of Love (*Epu>To s ) hear them. "Be in 
love with It," they say, "and It will keep thee — 
Rejoice over It, and It will exalt thee — Honour 
It, in order that It may encompass thee," — and what- 
ever else is sung respecting Love, in the Word 
of God. 

Section XII. 
And yet it seemed to some of our sacred ex- 
pounders that the Name of Love is more Divine 
than that of loving-kindness (dydTnjs). But even the 

on Divine Names. 47 

Divine Ignatius h writes, " my own Love (Zpa>s) is 
crucified ;" and in the introductions to the Oracles 
you will find a certain One saying of the Divine 
Wisdom, " 1 became enamoured of her Beauty." 
So that we, certainly, need not be afraid of this 
Name of Love, nor let any alarming statement about 
it terrify us. For the theologians seem to me to 
treat as equivalent the name of Loving-kindness, 
and that of Love ; and on this ground, to attribute, 
by preference, the veritable Love, to things Divine, 
because of the misplaced prejudice of such men as 
these. For, since the veritable Love is sung of in 
a sense befitting God, not by us only, but also by 
the Oracles themselves, the multitude, not having 
comprehended the Oneness of the Divine Name 
of Love, fell away, as might be expected of them, 
to the divided and corporeal and sundered, seeing 
it is not a real love, but a shadow, or rather a falling 
from the veritable Love. For the Oneness of the 
Divine and one Love is incomprehensible to the 
multitude, wherefore also, as seeming a very hard 
name to the multitude, it is assigned to the Divine 
Wisdom, for the purpose of leading back and re- 
storing them to the knowledge of the veritable Love ; 
and for their liberation from the difficulty respecting 
it. And again, as regards ourselves, where it hap- 
pened often that men of an earthly character ima- 
gined something out of place, (there is used) what 
appears more euphonius \ A certain one says, " Thy 

h See note, p. 128. 

1 tvQa Ka\ 6.tottov ri iroWdms l\v olrjdTjvai ruvs x a t JLai £fa ovs 
Kara rb Sokovv sixpTj^erepov. 

48 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

affection fell upon me, as the affection of the 
women." For those who have rightly listened to 
things Divine, the name of Loving-kindness and of 
Love is placed by the holy theologians in the same 
category throughout the Divine revelations, and this 
is of a power unifying, and binding together, and 
mingling pre-eminently in the Beautiful and Good ; 
pre-existing by reason of the beautiful and good, and 
imparted from the beautiful and good, by reason 
of the Beautiful and Good ; and sustaining things 
of the same rank, within their mutual coherence, 
but moving the first to forethought for the inferior, 
and attaching the inferior to the superior by respect. 

Section XIII. 
But Divine Love is extatic, not permitting (any) 
to be lovers of themselves, but of those beloved. 
They shew this too, the superior by becoming mind- 
ful of the inferior ; and the equals by their mutual 
coherence ; and the inferior, by a more divine re- 
spect towards things superior. Wherefore also, Paul 
the Great, when possessed by the Divine Love, and 
participating in its extatic power, says with inspired 
lips, " I live no longer, but Christ lives in me." As 
a true lover, and beside himself, as he says, to Al- 
mighty God, and not living the life of himself, but 
the life of the Beloved, as a life excessively esteemed. 
One might make bold to say even this, on behalf 
of truth, that the very Author of all things, by the 
beautiful and good love of everything, through an 
overflow of His loving goodness, becomes out of 
Himself, by His providences for all existing things, 

on Divine Names. 49 

and is, as it were, cozened by goodness and affection 
and love, and is led down from the Eminence above 
all, and surpassing all, to being in all, as befits an 
extatic superessential power centred in Himself. 
Wherefore, those skilled in Divine things call Him 
even Jealous, as (being) that vast good Love towards 
all beings, and as rousing His loving inclination to 
jealousy, — and as proclaiming Himself Jealous — to 
Whom the things desired are objects of jealousy, 
and as though the objects of His providential care 
were objects of jealousy for Him. And, in short, the 
lovable is of the Beautiful and Good, and Love pre- 
existed both in the Beautiful and Good, and on 
account of the Beautiful and Good, is and takes 

Section XIV. 
But what do the theologians mean when at one 
time they call Him Love, and Loving-kindness, and 
at another, Loved and Esteemed? For, of the one, 
He is Author and, as it were, Producer and Father ; 
but the other, He Himself is; and by one He is 
moved, but by the other He moves ; or (when they 
say), that He Himself is Procurer and Mover of Him- 
self and by Himself. In this sense, they call Him 
esteemed and loved, as Beautiful and Good : but 
again Love and Loving-kindness, as being at once 
moving and conducting Power to Himself; — the 
alone — self Beautiful and Good, by reason of Itself, 
and, being, as it were, a manifestation of Itself 
through Itself, and a good Progression of the sur- 


50 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

passing union, and a loving Movement, simplex, self- 
moved, self-operating, pre-existing in the Good, and 
from the Good bubbling forth to things existing, 
and again returning to the Good, in which also 
the Divine Love indicates distinctly Its own un- 
ending and unbeginning, as it were a sort of ever- 
lasting circle whirling round in unerring combination, 
by reason of the Good, from the Good, and in the 
Good, and to the Good, and ever advancing and 
remaining and returning in the same and throughout 
the same. And these things our illustrious initiator 
divinely set forth throughout His Hymns of Love, 
of which we may appropriately make mention, and, 
as it were, place as a certain sacred chapter to our 
treatise concerning Love. 

Section XV. 
Extract from the "Hymns of Love? by the most holy 

Hierotheus : — 

Love, whether we speak of Divine, or Angelic, 
or intelligent, or psychical, or physical, let us regard 
as a certain unifying and combining power, moving 
the superior to forethought for the inferior, and 
the equals to a mutual fellowship, and lastly, the 
inferior to respect towards the higher and superior. 

Section XVI. 
Of the same, from the same Erotic Hymns. 
Since we have arranged the many loves from 
the one, by telling, in due order, what are the 

on Divine Names. 5 r 

kinds of knowledge and powers of the mundane 
and super-mundane loves; over which, according 
to the defined purpose of the discourse, the orders 
and ranks of the mental and intelligible loves pre- 
side ; next after k which are placed the self-existent 
intelligible and divine, over the really beautiful 
loves there which have been appropriately celebrated 
by us ; now, on the other hand, by restoring all 
back to the One and enfolded Love, and Father 
of them all, let us collect and gather them together 
from the many, by contracting It into two Powers 
entirely lovable, over which rules and precedes 
altogether the Cause, resistless from Its universal 
Love beyond all, and to which is elevated, according 
to the nature of each severally, the whole love from 
all existing things. 

Section XVII. 
Of the same, from the same Hym?is of Love. 
Come then, whilst collecting these again into one, 
let us say, that it is a certain simplex power, which 
of itself moves to a sort of unifying combination 
from the Good, to the lowest of things existing, 
and from that again in due order, circling round 
again, through all to the Good from Itself, and 
through Itself and by Itself, and rolling back to Itself 
always in the same way. 

Section XVIII. 
And yet, any one might say, "if the Beautiful 
and Good is beloved and desired, and esteemed 
k i.e. in ascending order. 

5 2 Diony sius the Areopagite, 

by all (for even that which is non-existing desires It, 
as we have said, and struggles how to be in It ; and 
Itself is the form-giving, even of things without form, 
and by It alone, even the non-existing is said to be, 
and is superessentially)— " How is it that the host 
of demons do not desire the Beautiful and Good, 
but, through their earthly proclivities, having fallen 
away from the angelic identity, as regards the 
desire of the Good, have become cause of all evils 
both to themselves and to all the others who are 
said to be corrupted? and why, in short, when 
the tribes of demons have been brought into being 
from the Good, are they not like the Good? or 
how, after being a good production from the Good, 
were they changed? and what is that which de- 
praved them, and in short, what is evil ? and from 
what source did it spring? and in which of things 
existing is it? and how did He, Who is Good, will 
to bring it into being? and how, when He willed it, 
was He able? And if evil is from another cause, 
what other cause is there for things existing, beside 
the Good? Further, how, when there is a Providence, 
is there evil, either coming into existence at all, 
or not destroyed? And how does any existing thing 
desire it, in comparison with the Good ? 

Section XIX. l 
Such a statement as this might be alleged by 
way of objection. We, however, on our part, will 

1 Plato, Theaet. 

on Divine Names. 53 

pray the objector to look to the truth of the facts, 
and will make bold to say this first. The Evil is 
not from the Good, and if it is from the Good, 
it is not the Evil. For, it is not the nature of fire 
to make cold, nor of good to bring into being 
things not good ; and if all things that be are from 
the Good (for to produce and to preserve is natural 
to the Good, but to destroy and to dissolve, to the 
Evil), there is no existing thing from the Evil, nor will 
the Evil itself be, if it should be evil even to itself. 
And, if it be not so, the Evil is not altogether evil, 
but has some portion of the Good, in consequence 
of which it wholly is. Now, if the things existing 
desire the Beautiful and Good, and whatever they do, 
they do for the sake of that which seems good, 
and every purpose of things existing has the Good 
for its beginning and end (for nothing looking to 
the Evil qua evil, does what it does), how shall 
the Evil be in things existing; or, wholly being, 
how has it been seduced from such a good yearning ? 
Also if all the things existing are from the Good, 
and the Good is above all things existing, then there 
is existing in the Good even the non-existing ; but 
the Evil is not existing ; and, if this be not the case, 
it is not altogether evil, nor non-existing, for the 
absolutely non-existing will be nothing, unless it 
should be spoken of as in the Good superessentially. 
The Good, then, will be fixed far above both the 
absolutely existing and the non-existing; but the 
Evil is neither in things existing, nor in things non- 
existing, but, being further distant from the Good than 

54 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

the non-existing itself, it is alien and more unsub- 
stantial. Where then is the Evil? some one may 
perchance say. For if the Evil is not,— virtue and 
vice are the same, both universally and particularly. 
Or, not even that which opposes itself to virtue 
will be evil, and yet sobriety and license, and right- 
eousness and unrighteousness, are contraries. And 
I, by no means, speak in reference to the just and 
unjust man, and the temperate and intemperate man ; 
but also, long before the difference between the just 
man and his opposite is made manifest externally, 
in the very soul itself the vices stand altogether 
apart from the virtues, and the passions rebel against 
the reason ; and from this we must grant some evil 
contrary to the Good. For the Good is not contrary 
to Itself, but as the product from one Source and 
one Cause, It rejoices in fellowship and unity and 
friendship. Nor yet is the lesser good opposed to 
the greater, for neither is the less heat or cold 
opposed to the greater. The Evil m then is in things 
existing, and is existing, and is opposed, and is 
in opposition to, the Good; and if it is the de- 
struction of things existing, this does not expel 
the Evil from existence ; but it will be, both itself 
existing, and generator of things existing. Does 
not frequently the destruction of one become birth 
of another? and the Evil will be contributing to 
the completion of the whole, and supplying through 
itself non-imperfection to the whole. 

■ Theaet., 176a. 

on Divine Names. 55 

Section XX. 
Now to all this true reason will answer, that the 
Evil qua evil makes no single essence or birth, but 
only, as far as it can, pollutes and destroys the sub- 
sistence of things existing. But, if any one says, 
that it is productive of being, and that by destruc- 
tion of one it gives birth to another, we must truly 
answer, that not qua destruction it gives birth, but 
qua destruction and evil, it destroys and pollutes 
only, but it becomes birth and essence, by reason 
of the Good ; and the Evil will be destruction in- 
deed, by reason of itself; but producer of birth by 
reason of the Good ; and qua evil, it is neither ex- 
isting, nor productive of things existing; but, by 
reason of the Good, it is both existing and good-ex- 
isting, and productive of things good. Yea, rather 
(for neither will the same by itself be both good and 
evil, nor the self-same power be of itself destruction and 
birth— neither as self-acting power, nor as self-acting 
destruction), the absolutely Evil is neither existing 
nor good, nor generative, nor productive of things 
being and good ; but the Good in whatever things 
it may be perfectly engendered, makes them perfect 
and pure, and thoroughly good, — but the things 
which partake of it in a less degree are both imper- 
fectly good, and impure, by reason of the lack of the 
Good. And (thus) the Evil altogether, is not, nor is 
good, nor good producing ; but that which ap- 
proaches more or less near the Good will be pro- 
portionately good ; since the All-perfect Goodness, 
in passing through all, not only passes to the All- 

5 6 Dionysins the Areopagite, 

good beings around Itself, but extends Itself to the 
most remote, by being present to some thoroughly, 
to others subordinately, but to the rest, in the most 
remote degree, as each existing thing is able to par- 
ticipate in It. And some things, indeed, participate 
in the Good entirely, whilst others are deprived of 
It, in a more or less degree, but others possess a 
more obscure participation in the Good ; and to the 
rest, the Good is present as a most distant echo. 
For if the Good were not present according to the 
capacity of each, the most Divine and honoured 
would occupy the rank of the lowest. And how 
were it possible that all should participate in the 
Good uniformly, when not all are in the same way 
adapted to its whole participation ? 

Now, this is the exceeding greatness of the power 
of the Good, that It empowers, both things de- 
prived, and the deprivation of Itself, with a view to 
the entire participation of itself. And, if one must 
make bold to speak the truth, even the things fight- 
ing against It, both are, and are able to fight, by Its 
power. Yea rather, in order that I may speak sum- 
marily, all things which are, in so far as they are, 
both are good, and from the Good j but, in so far as 
they are deprived of the Good, are neither good, nor 
do they exist. For, even with regard to the other 
conditions, such as heat or cold, there are things 
which have been heated, and when the heat has 
departed from them, many of them are deprived 
both of life and intelligence (now Almighty God is 
outside essence, and is, superessentially), and, in 

on Divine Names. 57 

one word, with regard to the rest, even when 
the condition has departed, or has not become 
completely developed, things exist, and are able 
to subsist; but that which is every way deprived 
of the Good, in no way or manner ever was, or 
is, or will be, nor is able to be. For example, 
the licentious man, even if he have been deprived 
of the Good, as regards his irrational lust, in this 
respect he neither is, nor desires realities, but never- 
theless he participates in the Good, in his very 
obscure echo of union and friendship. And, even 
Anger participates in the Good, by the very move- 
ment and desire to direct and turn the seeming 
evils to the seeming good. And the very man, who 
desires the very worst life, as wholly desirous of life 
and that which seems best to him, by the very fact 
of desiring, and desiring life, and looking to a best 
life, participates in the Good. And, if you should 
entirely take away the Good, there will be neither 
essence, nor life, nor yearning, nor movement, nor 
anything else. So that the fact, that birth is born 
from destruction, is not a power of evil, but a pre- 
sence of a lesser good, even as disease is a defect of 
order, not total — for, if this should be, not even the 
disease itself will continue to exist, but the disease 
remains and is, by having the lowest possible order 
of essence, and in this continues to exist as a para- 
site. For that which is altogether deprived of the 
Good, is neither existing, nor in things existing; 
but the compound, by reason of the Good in things 
existing, and in consequence of this in things exist- 

58 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

ing, is also existing in so far as it participates in the 
Good. Yea rather, all things existing will so far be, 
more or less, as they participate in the Good ; for, 
even as respects the self-existing Being, that which 
in no ways is at all, will not be at all ; but that 
which partially is, but partially is not, in so far as it 
has fallen from the ever Being, is not ; but so far 
as it has participated in the Being, so far it is, and 
its whole being, and its non-being, is sustained 
and preserved. And the Evil, — that which has 
altogether fallen from the Good — will be good, 
neither in the more nor in the less; but the 
partially good, and partially not good, fight no 
doubt against a certain good, but not against 
the whole Good, and, even it is sustained by 
the participation of the Good, and the Good 
gives essence even to the privation of Itself, wholly 
by the participation of Itself; for, when the Good 
has entirely departed, there will be neither anything 
altogether good, nor compound, nor absolute evil. 
For, if the Evil is an imperfect good, (then) by the en- 
tire absence of the Good, both the imperfect and the 
perfect Good will be absent; and then only will be, 
and be seen, the Evil, when on the one hand, it is 
an evil to those things to which it was opposed, and, 
on the other, is expelled from other things on ac- 
count of their goodness. For, it is impossible that 
the same things, under the same conditions in every 
respect, should fight against each other. The Evil 
then is not an actual thing. 

on Divine Names. 5 9 

Section XXI. 

But neither is the Evil in things existing. For, 
if all things existing are from the Good, and the 
Good is in all things existing, and embraces all, 
either the Evil will not be in things existing, or it 
will be in the Good ; and certainly it will not be in 
the Good, for neither is cold in fire, nor to do 
evil in Him, Who turns even the evil to good. But, 
if it shall be, how will the Evil be in the Good ? 
If forsooth, from Itself, it is absurd and impossible. 
For it is not possible, as the infallibility of the 
Oracles affirms, that a " good tree should bring forth 
evil fruits," nor certainly, vice versa. But, if not 
from Itself, it is evident that it will be from another 
source and cause. For, either the Evil will be from 
the Good, or the Good from the Evil ; or, if this 
be not possible, both the Good and the Evil will 
be from another source and cause, for no dual is 
source, but a Unit will be source of every dual. 
Further, it is absurd that two entirely contraries 
should proceed and be from one and the same, and 
that the self-same source should be, not simplex and 
unique, but divided and double, and contrary to 
itself, and be changed ; and certainly it is not pos- 
sible that there should be two contrary sources of 
things existing, and that these should be contending 
in each other, and in the whole. For, if this were 
granted, even Almighty God will not be in repose, 
nor free from disquietude, if there were indeed some- 
thing bringing disturbance even to Him. Then, 

60 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

everything will be in disorder, and always fighting ; 
and yet the Good distributes friendship to all ex- 
isting things, and is celebrated by the holy theo- 
logians, both as very Peace, and Giver of Peace. 
Wherefore, things good are both friendly and har- 
monious, every one, and products of one life, and 
marshalled to one good ; and kind, and similar, and 
affable to each other. So that the Evil is not in 
God, and the Evil is not inspired by God. But 
neither is the Evil from God, for, either He is not 
good, or He does good, and produces good things ; 
and, not once in a way, and some ; and at another 
time not, and not all ; for this would argue transition 
and change, even as regards the very Divinest thing 
of all, the Cause. But, if in God, the Good is sus- 
taining essence, God, when changing from the Good, 
will be sometimes Being, and sometimes not Being. 
But, if He has the Good by participation, He will 
then have it from another ; and sometimes He will 
have it, and sometimes not. The Evil, then, is not 
from God, nor in God, neither absolutely nor oc- 

Section XXII. 

But neither is the Evil in Angels ; for if the good- 
like angel proclaims the goodness of God, being by 
participation in a secondary degree that which the 
Announced is in the first degree as Cause, the Angel 
is a likeness of Almighty God — a manifestation of 
the unmanifested light — a mirror untarnished — most 
transparent — without flaw — pure— without spot — 

on Divine Names. 6 1 

receiving, if I may so speak, the full beauty of the 
Good-stamped likeness of God — and without stain, 
shedding forth undefiledly in itself, so far as is 
possible, the goodness of the Silence, which dwells 
in innermost shrines. The Evil, then, is not even 
in Angels. But by punishing sinners are they evil ? 
By this rule, then, the punishers of transgressors 
are evil, and those of the priests who shut out 
the profane from the Divine Mysteries. And yet, 
the being punished is not an evil, but the becoming 
worthy of punishment; nor the being deservedly 
expelled from Holy things, but the becoming ac- 
cursed of God, and unholy and unfit for things un- 

Section XXIII. 
But, neither are the demons evil by nature ; for, 
if they are evil by nature, neither are they from the 
Good, nor amongst things existing; nor, in fact, 
did they change from good, being by nature, and 
always, evil. Then, are they evil to themselves 
or to others? If to themselves, they also destroy 
themselves; but if to others, how destroying, or 
what destroying ?— Essence, or power, or energy? 
If indeed Essence, in the first place, it is not con- 
trary to nature; for they do not destroy things 
indestructible by nature, but things receptive of 
destruction. Then, neither is this an evil for every 
one, and in every case ; but, not even any existing 
thing is destroyed, in so far as it is essence and 
nature, but by the defect of nature's order, the 

62 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

principle of harmony and proportion lacks the power 
to remain as it was. But the lack of strength is not 
complete, for the complete lack of power takes away 
even the disease and the subject; and such a disease 
will be even a destruction of itself; so that, such 
a thing is not an evil, but a defective good, for that 
which has no part of the Good will not be amongst 
things which exist. And with regard to the destruc- 
tion of power and energy the principle is the same. 
Then, how are the demons, seeing they come 
into being from God, evil? For the Good brings 
forth and sustains good things. Yet they are called 
evil, some one may say. But not as they are (for they 
are from the Good, and obtained a good being), but, 
as they are not, by not having had strength, as the 
Oracles affirm, "to keep their first estate." For in 
what, tell me, do we affirm that the demons become 
evil, except in the ceasing in the habit and energy 
for good things Divine ? Otherwise, if the demons 
are evil by nature, they are always evil ; yet evil 
is unstable. Therefore, if they are always in the 
same condition, they are not evil ; for to be ever the 
same is a characteristic of the Good. But, if they 
are not always evil, they are not evil by nature, but 
by wavering from the angelic good qualities. And 
they are not altogether without part in the good, 
in so far as they both are, and live and think, and 
in one word — as there is a sort of movement of 
aspiration in them. But they are said to be evil, 
by reason of their weakness as regards their action 
according to nature. The evil then, in them, is 

on Divine Names. 63 

a turning aside and a stepping out of things befitting 
themselves, and a missing of aim, and imperfection 
and impotence, and a weakness and departure, and 
falling away from the power which preserves their 
integrity in them. Otherwise, what is evil in demons ? 
An irrational anger — a senseless desire — a headlong 
fancy. — But these, even if they are in demons, are 
not altogether, nor in every respect, nor in them- 
selves alone, evils. For even with regard to other 
living creatures, not the possession of these, but 
the loss, is both destruction to the creature, and 
an evil. But the possession saves, and makes to 
be, the nature of the living creature which possesses 
them. The tribe of demons then is not evil, so 
far as it is according to nature, but so far as it is 
not ; and the whole good which was given to them 
was not changed, but themselves fell from the whole 
good given. And the angelic gifts which were 
given to them, we by no means affirm that they 
were changed, but they exist, and are complete, and 
all luminous, although the demons themselves do 
not see, through having blunted their powers of 
seeing good. So far as they are, they are both from 
the Good, and are good, and aspire to the Beautiful 
and the Good, by aspiring to the realities, Being, 
and Life, and Thought ; and by the privation and 
departure and declension from the good things be- 
fitting them, they are called evil, and are evil as 
regards what they are not : and by aspiring to the 
non-existent, they aspire to the Evil. 

6 4 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

Section XXIV. 
But does some one say that souls are evil? If 
it be that they meet with evil things providentially, 
and with a view to their preservation, this is not 
an evil, but a good, and from the Good, Who makes 
even the evil good. But, if we say that souls become 
evil, in what respect do they become evil, except 
in the failure of their good habits and energies ; and, 
by reason of their own lack of strength, missing their 
aim and tripping? For we also say, that the air 
around us becomes dark by failure and absence of 
light, and yet the light itself is always light, that 
which enlightens even the darkness. The Evil, 
then, is neither in demons nor in us, as an existent 
evil,' but as a failure and dearth of the perfection 
of our own proper goods. 

Section XXV. 
But neither is the Evil in irrational creatures, 
for if you should take away anger and lust, and the 
other things which we speak of, and which are not 
absolutely evil in their own nature, the lion having 
lost his boldness and fierceness will not be a lion j 
and the dog, when he has become gentle to every 
body, will not be a dog, since to keep guard is 
a dog's duty, and to admit those of the household, 
but to drive away the stranger. So the fact that 
nature is not destroyed is not an evil, but a destruc- 
tion of nature, weakness, and failure of the natural 
habitudes and energies and powers. And, if all 

on Divine Names. 65 

things through generation in time have their per- 
fection, the imperfect is not altogether contrary to 
universal nature. 

Section XXVI. 
But neither is the Evil in nature throughout, for if 
all the methods of nature are from universal nature, 
there is nothing contrary to it. But in each indi- 
vidual (nature) one thing will be according to nature, 
and another not according to nature. For one thing 
is contrary to nature in one, and another in another 11 , 
and that which is according to nature to one, is to 
the other, contrary to nature. But malady of nature, 
that which is the contrary to nature, is the deprivation 
of things of nature. So that there is not an evil 
nature; but this is evil to nature, the inability to 
accomplish the things of one's proper nature. 

Section XXVII. 
But, neither is the Evil in bodies. For deformity 
and disease are a defect of form, and a deprivation of 
order. And this is not altogether an evil, but a less 
good ; for if a dissolution of beauty and form and 
order become complete, the body itself will be gone. 
But that the body is not cause of baseness to the soul 
is evident, from the fact that baseness continues to 
coexist even without a body, as in demons. For this 
is evil to minds and souls and bodies, (viz.) the 
weakness and declension from the habitude of their 
own proper goods. 

n AAAp yap &\\o irapa, (pvaiv. 

66 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

Section XXVIII. 
But neither (a thing which they say over and over 
again) is the evil in matter, so far as it is matter 
For even it participates in ornament and beauty and 
form. But if matter, being without these, by itself 
is without quality and without form, how does matter 
produce anything— matter, which, by itself, is impas- 
sive? Besides how is matter an evil? for, if it does 
not exist in any way whatever, it is neither good nor 
evil ; but if it is any how existing, and all things 
existing are from the Good, even it would be from 
the Good ; and either the Good is productive of the 
Evil, or the Evil, as being from the Good, is good 5 or 
the Evil is capable of producing the Good; or even 
the Good, as from the Evil, is evil ; or further, there 
are two first principles, and these suspended from 
another one head. And, if they say that matter is 
necessary, for a completion of the whole Cosmos, 
how is matter an evil? For the Evil is one thing, and 
the necessary ° is another. But, how does He, Who 
is Good, bring anything to birth from the Evil? or, 
how is that, which needs the Good, evil? For the 
Evil shuns the nature of the Good. And how does 
matter, being evil, generate and nourish nature? 
For the Evil, qud evil, neither generates, nor nour- 
ishes, nor solely produces, nor preserves anything. 

But, if they should say, that it does not make base- 
ness in souls, but that they are dragged to it, how 
will this be true? for many of them look towards the 

Jahn, p. 66. 

on Divine Names. 67 

good ; and yet how did this take place, when matter 
was dragging them entirely to the Evil ? So that the 
Evil in souls is not from matter, but from a disordered 
and discordant movement. But, if they say this 
further, that they invariably follow matter, and un- 
stable matter is necessary for those who are unable to 
stand firmly by themselves, how is the Evil necessary, 
or the necessary an evil ? 

Section XXIX. 
But neither is it this which we affirm — the " priva- 
tion fights against the Good by its own power p " ; for 
the complete privation is altogether powerless, and 
the partial has the power, not in respect of privation, 
but in so far as it is not a complete privation. For, 
whilst privation of good is partial, it is not, as yet, an 
evil, and when it has become an accomplished fact, 
the nature of the evil has departed also. 

Section XXX. 
But, to speak briefly, the Good is from the one 
and the whole Cause, but the Evil is from many and 
partial defects. Almighty God knows the Evil qua 
good; and, with Him, the causes of the evils are 
powers producing good i. But, if the Evil is eternal, 
and creates, and has power, and is, and does, 
whence do these come to it? Is it either from 
the Good, or by the Good from the Evil, or by 
both from another cause? Everything that is ac- 
cording to nature comes into being from a de- 

» Jahn, p. 67. 1 Out of evil forth producing good. 

68 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

fined cause. And if the Evil is without cause, 
and undefined, it is not according to nature. For 
there is not in nature what is contrary to nature ; 
nor is there any raison d'etre for want of art in art. 
Is then the soul cause of things evil, as fire of 
burning, and does it fill everything that it happens 
to touch with baseness ? Or, is the nature of the soul 
then good, but, by its energies, exists sometimes in 
one condition, and sometimes in another ? If indeed 
by nature, even its existence is an evil, and whence 
then does it derive its existence ? Or, is it from the 
good Cause creative of the whole universe ? But, if 
from this, how is it essentially evil ? For good are all 
things born of this. But if by energies, neither is this 
invariable, and if not, whence are the virtues ? Since 
it (the soul) comes into being without even seeming 
good. It remains then that the Evil is a weakness 
and a falling short of the Good. 

Section XXXI. 

The Cause of things good is One. If.the Evil is 
contrary to the Good, the many causes of the Evil, 
certainly those productive of things evil, are not 
principles and powers, but want of power, and want 
of strength, and a mixing of things dissimilar without 
proportion. Neither are things evil unmoved, and 
always in the same condition, but endless and un- 
defined, and borne along in different things, and 
those endless. The Good will be beginning and end 
of all, even things evil, for, for the sake of the 
Good, are all things, both those that are good, and 

on Divine Na?nes. 69 

those that are contrary. For we do even these as 
desiring the Good (for no one does what he does 
with a view to the Evil), wherefore the Evil has not 
a subsistence, but a parasitical subsistence, coming 
into being for the sake of the Good, and not of icself. 

Section XXXII. 
It is to be laid down that being belongs to the 
Evil as an accident and by reason of something else, 
and not from its own origin, and thus that that which 
comes into being appears to be right, because it 
comes into being for the sake of the Good, but that 
in reality it is not right for the reason that we think 
that which is not good to be good. The desired 
is shewn to be one thing, and that which comes 
to pass is another. The Evil, then, is beside the 
path, and beside the mark, and beside nature, and 
beside cause, and beside beginning, and beside end, 
and beside limit, and beside intention, and beside 
purpose. The Evil then is privation and failure, 
and want of strength, and want of proportion, and 
want of attainment, and want of purpose ; and with- 
out beauty, and without life, and without mind, and 
without reason, and without completeness, and with- 
out stability, and without cause, and without limit, 
and without production; and inactive, and without 
result, and disordered, and dissimilar, and limitless, 
and dark, and unessential, and being itself nothing 
in any manner of way whatever. How, in short, 
can evil do anything by its mixture with the Good ? 
For that which is altogether without participation 

7 o Dionysius the Areopagite, 

in the Good, neither is anything, nor is capable of 
anything. For, if the Good is both an actual thing 
and an object of desire, and powerful and effective, 
how will the contrary to the Good,— that which has 
been deprived of essence, and intention, and power, 
and energy,— be capable of anything ? Not all things 
are evil to all, nor the same things evil in every 
respect. To a demon, evil is to be contrary to 
the good-like mind— to a soul, to be contrary to 
reason— to a body, to be contrary to nature. 

Section XXXIII. 
How, in short, are there evils when there is a 
Providence? The Evil, qud evil, is not, neither 
as an actual thing nor as in things existing. And 
no single thing is without a Providence. For neither 
is the Evil an actual thing existing unmixed with 
the Good. And, if no single thing is without par- 
ticipation in the Good, but the lack of the Good 
is an evil, and no existing thing is deprived ab- 
solutely of the Good, the Divine Providence is 
in all existing things, and no single thing is without 
Providence. But Providence, as befits Its goodness, 
uses even evils which happen for the benefit, either 
individual or general, of themselves or others, and 
suitably provides for each being. Wherefore we 
will not admit the vain statement of the multitude, 
who say that Providence ought to lead us to virtue, 
even against our will. For to destroy nature is not 
a function of Pro*tfence. Hence, as Providence 
is conservative of therfeture of each, it provides for 

on Divine Names. 7 1 

the free, as free ; and for the whole, and individuals, 
according to the wants of all and each, as far as the 
nature of those provided for admits the providential 
benefits of its universal and manifold Providence, 
distributed proportionably to each. 

Section XXXIV. 
The Evil, then, is not an actual thing, nor is the 
Evil in things existing. For the Evil, qua evil, is 
nowhere, and the fact that evil comes into being 
is not in consequence of power, but by reason of 
weakness. And, as for the demons, what they are 
is both from the Good, and good. But their evil 
is from the declension from their own proper goods, 
and a change — the weakness, as regards their iden- 
tity and condition, of the angelic perfection befitting 
them. And they aspire to the Good, in so far as they 
aspire to be and to live and to think. And in so 
far as they do not aspire to the Good, they aspire 
to the non-existent ; and this is not aspiration, but 
a missing of the true aspiration. 

Section XXXV. 
Now the Oracles call conscious transgressors those 
who are thoroughly weak as regards the ever memor- 
able knowledge or the practise of the Good, and 
who, knowing the will, do not perform it, — those 
who are hearers indeed, but are weak concerning 
the faith, or the energy of the Good. And for some, 
it is against their will to understand to do good, 
by reason of the deviation or weakness of the will. 

7 2 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

And in short, the Evil (as we have often said) is 
want of strength and want of power, and defect, 
either of the knowledge, or the never to be forgotten 
knowledge, or of the faith, or of the aspiration, 
or of the energy of the Good. Yet, some one may 
say, the weakness is not punishable, but on the 
contrary is pardonable. Now, if the power were 
not granted, the statement might hold good; but, 
if power comes from the Good, Who giveth, accord- 
ing to the Oracles, the things suitable to all ab« 
solutely, the failure and deviation, and departure 
and declension of the possession from the Good 
of our own proper goods is not praiseworthy. But 
let these things suffice to have been sufficiently said 
according to our ability in our writings " Concerning 
just and Divine chastisement" throughout which sacred 
treatise the infallibility of the Oracles has cast aside 
those sophistical statements as senseless words, speak- 
ing injustice and falsehood against Almighty God, 
But now, according to our ability, the Good has 
been sufficiently praised, as really lovable,— as be- 
ginning and end of all— as embracing things exist- 
ing—as giving form to things not existing— as Cause 
of all good things— as guiltless of things evil— as 
Providence and Goodness complete— and soaring 
above things that are and things that are not— and 
turning to good things evil, and the privation of 
Itself— as by all desired, and loved, and esteemed, 
and whatever else, the true statement, as I deem, 
has demonstrated in the preceding. 

on Divine Names. 73 


Concerning Being — in which also concerning 

Section I, 
Let us now then pass to the name " Being " — given 
in the Oracles as veritably that of Him, Who verit- 
ably is. But we will recall to your remembrance 
this much, that the purpose of our treatise is not 
to make known the superessential Essence — qua 
superessential — -(for this is inexpressible, and un- 
knowable, and altogether unrevealed, and surpassing 
the union itself), but to celebrate the progression 
of the supremely Divine Source of Essence, which 
gives essence to all things being. For the Divine 
Name of the Good, as making known the whole 
progressions of the Cause of all, is extended, both 
to things being, and things not being, and is above 
things being, and things not being. But the Name 
of Being is extended to all things being, and 
is above things being; — and the Name of Life 
is extended to all things living, and is above things 
living ; and the Name of Wisdom is extended to 
all the intellectual and rational and sensible, and 
is above all these. 

Section II. 
The treatise, then, seeks to celebrate these, the 
Names of God, which set forth His Providence. 
For it does not profess to express the very super- 
essential Goodness, and Essence, and Life, and 

74 Dionysius the Areopagite^ 

Wisdom, of the very superessential Deity, Which 
is seated above all Goodness, and Deity, and 
Essence, and Wisdom, and Life,— in secret places, 
as the Oracles affirm. But it celebrates the bene- 
ficial Providence, which has been set forth as pre- 
eminently Goodness and Cause of all good things, 
and as Being, and Life, and Wisdom,— the Cause 
essentiating and vivifying, and wise-making, of those 
who partake of essence, and life, and mind, and 
reason, and sense. But it does not affirm that the 
Good is one thing, and the Being another; and 
that Life is other than Wisdom ; nor that the Causes 
are many, and that some deities produce one thing 
and others another, as superior and inferior; but 
that the whole good progressions and the Names 
of God, celebrated by us, are of one God ; and that 
the one epithet makes known the complete Pro- 
vidence of the one God, but that the others are 
indicative of His more general and more particular 

Section III. 
Yet, some one might say, for what reason do 
we affirm that Life is superior to Being, and Wisdom 
to Life ? Things with life no doubt are above things 
that merely exist— things sensible above those which 
merely live,— and things rational above these,— and 
the Minds r above the rational, and are around God, 
and are more near to Him. Yet, things which 
partake of greater gifts from God, must needs be 

■ Angels. 

on Divine Names. 75 

better and superior to the rest. But if any one 
assumed the intellectual to be without being, and 
without life, the statement might hold good. But 
if the Divine Minds are both above all the rest 
of beings, and live above the other living beings, 
and think and know, above sensible perception and 
reason, and, beyond all the other existing beings, 
aspire to, and participate in, the Beautiful and Good, 
they are more around the Good, participating in It 
more abundantly, and having received larger and 
greater gifts from It. As also, the rational creatures 
excel those of sensible perception, by their superiority 
in the abundance of reason, and these, by their 
sensible perception, and others, by their life. And 
this, as I think, is true, that the things which 
participate more in the One and boundless-giving 
God, are more near to Him, and more divine, 
than those who come behind them (in gifts). 

Section IV. 
Now, since we are speaking of these things, come 
then, and let us praise the Good, as veritably Being, 
and giving essence to all things that be. He, Who 
is, is superessential, sustaining Cause of the whole 
potential Being, and Creator of being, existence, 
subsistence, essence, nature ; Source and Measure 
of ages, and Framer of times, and Age of things that 
be, Time of things coming into being, Being of things 
howsoever being, Birth of things howsoever born. 
From Him, Who is, is age, and essence, and being, 
and time, and birth, and thing born ; the realities 

7 6 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

in things that be, and things howsoever existing 
and subsisting. For Almighty God is not relatively 
a Being, but absolutely and unboundedly, having 
comprehended and anticipated the whole Being 
in Himself. Wherefore, He is also called King of 
the ages, since the whole being both is, and is 
sustained, in Him and around Him. And He 
neither was, nor will be, nor became, nor becomes, 
nor will become— yea rather, neither is. But He 
is the Being to things that be, and not things that 
be only, but the very being of things that be, 
absolutely from before the ages. For He is the 
Age of ages— the Existing before the ages. 

Section V. 
Summing up, then, let us say, that the being 
to all beings and to the ages, is from the Pre- 
existing. And every age and time is from Him. 
And of every age and time, and of everything, 
howsoever existing, the Pre-existing is Source and 
Cause. And all things participate in Him, and 
from no single existing thing does He stand aloof. 
And He is before all things, and all things in Him 
consist. And absolutely, if anything is, in any way 
whatsoever, it both is, and is contemplated, and 
is preserved in the Pre-existing. And, before all the 
other participations in Him, the being is pre-sup- 
posed. And self-existent Being has precedence of 
the being- self-existent Life; and the being self- 
existent Wisdom ; and the being self-existent Divine 
Likeness; and the other beings, in whatever gifts 

o?i Divine Names. 77 

participating, before all these participate in being; 
yea, rather, all self-existent things, of which existing 
things participate, participate in the self-existent 
Being. And there is nothing existent, of which the 
self-existent Being is not essence and age. Natur- 
ally, then, more chiefly than all the rest, Almighty 
God is celebrated as Being, from the prior of His 
other gifts ; for pre-possessing even pre-existence, and 
super-existence, and super-possessing being, He pre- 
established all being, I mean self-existent being ; and 
subjected everything, howsoever existing, to Being 
Itself. And then, all the sources of beings, as 
participating in being, both are, and are sources, 
and first are, and then are sources. And, if you 
wish to say, that the self-existent Life is source of 
living things, as living ; and the self-existent Simi- 
litude, of things similar as similar; and the self- 
existent Union, of things united, as united ; and 
the self-existent Order, of things ordered, as ordered • 
and of the rest, as many as, by participating in this 
or that, or both, or many, are this or that, or both, 
or many, you will find the self-existent participations 
themselves, first participating in being, and by their 
being, first remaining; — then being sources of this 
or that, and by their participating in being, both 
being, and being participated. But, if these are 
by their participation of being, much more the 
things participating in them. 

Section VI. 
The self-existent Super-goodness then, as pro- 
jecting the first gift of self-existent being, is cele- 

78 Dio?iysius the Areopagite, 

brated by the elder and first of the participations ; 
and being itself is from It, and in It; as also the 
sources of things being, and all the things that 
be, and the things howsoever sustained by being, 
and that irresistibly, and comprehensively and uni- 
formly. For even in a monad, every number pre- 
exists in the form of a unit, and the monad holds 
every number in itself singly. And every number 
is united in the monad, but so far as it advances 
from the monad, so far it is distributed and mul- 
tiplied. And in a centre, all the lines 8 of the circle 
coexist within one union, and the point holds all 
the straight lines in itself, uniformly united, both 
to each other, and to the one source from which 
they proceeded, and in the centre itself they are 
completely united ; but standing slightly distant from 
it, they are slightly separated ; but when more apart, 
more so. And in one word, the nearer they are 
to the centre, the more they are united to it and 
to each other? and the more they stand apart from 
it, the more they stand apart from each other. 

Section VII. 
But all the proportions of nature individually 
are comprehended in the whole nature of the whole, 
within one unconfused union; and in the soul, 
the powers of each several part are provident of 
the whole body in a uniform fashion. There is 
nothing out of place then, that, by ascending from 
obscure images to the Cause of all, we should con- 
» i.e. the radii. 

on Divine Names. 79 

template, with supermundane eyes, all things in 
the Cause of all, even those contrary to each other, 
after a single fashion and unitedly. For It is Source 
of things existing, from which are both being itself, 
and all things however being; every source, every 
term, every life, every immortality, every wisdom, 
every order, every harmony, every power, every 
protection, every stability, every endurance, every 
conception, every word, every sensible perception, 
every habit, every standing, every movement, every 
union, every mingling, every friendship, every agree- 
ment, every difference, every limit, and whatever 
other things existing by being, characterize all things 

Section VIII. 
And from the same Cause of all, are the higher 
and lower intellectual* essences of the godlike 
angels ; and those of the souls ; and the natures 
of the whole Cosmos ; all things whatsoever said to 
be either in others, or by reflection. Yea, even 
the all holy and most honoured Powers veritably 
being, and established, as it were, in the vestibule 
of the superessential Triad, are from It, and in It ; 
and have the being and the godlike being ; and 
after them, as regards Angels, the subordinate, sub- 
ordinate^, and the remotest, most remotely, but as 
regards ourselves, supermundanely. And the souls, 
and all the other beings, according to the same rule, 
have their being, and their well-being ; and are, and 
are well ; by having from the Pre-existing their being 
* Maximus, Scholia, cap. 4, sec. I. 

80 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

and their well-being. And in It are both being and 
well-being; and from It, beginning; and in It, 
guarded; and to It, terminated. And the preroga- 
tives of being he distributes to the superior beings, 
which the Oracles call even eternal. But being 
itself never at any time fails all existing beings. 
And even self-existent being is from the Pre-existent, 
and of Him is being, and He is not of being ;— and 
in Him is being, and He is not in being; and 
being possesses Him, and not He possesses being ; 
and He is both age and beginning, and measure of 
being; being essentiating Source, and Middle and 
End, of pre-essence, and being and age and all things. 
And for this reason, by the Oracles, the veritably 
Pre-existing is represented under many forms, accord- 
ing to every conception of beings, and the " Was " 
and the " Is," and the " Will be," and the " Became," 
and the " Becomes," and the " Will become," are 
properly sung respecting Him. For all these, to 
those who think worthily of God, signify by every 
conception His being superessentially, and Cause in 
every way of things existing. For He is not this, 
but not that; nor is He in some way, but not in 
some other; but He is all things, as Cause of all, 
and containing and pre-holding in Himself all govern- 
ments, all controls, of all existing things. And He 
is above all, as superessentially super-being before all. 
Wherefore, also, all things are predicated of Him 
and together, and He is none of them all ; of every 
shape, of every kind, without form, without beauty, 
anticipating in Himself, beginnings and middles, 

on Divine Names. Si 

and ends of things existing, irresistibly and pre- 
eminently ; and shedding forth without flaw, (the 
light of) being to all, as beseems a One and super- 
united Cause. For, if our sun, at the same time 
that he is one and sheds a uniform light, renews 
the essences and qualities of sensible creatures, 
although they are many and various, and nourishes 
and guards, and perfects and distinguishes, and 
unites, and fosters, and makes to be productive, and 
increases, and transforms, and establishes, and makes 
to grow, and awakens, and gives life to all ; and each 
of the whole, in a manner appropriate to itself, par- 
ticipates in the same and one sun ; and the one 
sun anticipated in himself, uniformly, the causes of 
the many participants ; much more with regard to 
the Cause of it and of all things, ought we to con- 
cede that It first presides over, as beseems One 
superessential Oneness, all the exemplars of things 
existing; since He produces even essences, as be- 
seems the egression from essence. But, we affirm 
that the exemplars are the methods in God, giving 
essence to things that be, and pre-existing uniformly, 
which theology calls predeterminations, and Divine 
and good wills, which define and produce things 
existing ; according to which (predeterminations) the 
Superessential both predetermined and brought into 
existence everything that exists. 

Section IX. 
But, if the Philosopher Clemens thinks good, that 
the higher amongst beings should be called exem- 

82; Dionysius the Areop agile, 

plars in relation to something, his statement advances, 
not through correct and perfect and simple names. 
But, when we have conceded even this, to be cor- 
rectly said, we must call to mind the Word of God, 
which says, " I have not shewn thee these things for 
the purpose of going after them, but that through 
the proportionate knowledge of these we may be led 
up to the Cause of all, as we are capable." 

We must attribute, then, all existing things to It, 
as beseems One Union pre-eminent above all, since 
by starting from Being, the essentiating Progression 
and Goodness, both penetrating all, and filling all 
things with Its own being, and rejoicing over all 
things being, pre-holds all things in Itself, rejecting 
all duplicity by an one superfluity of simplicity. 
But It grasps all things in the same way, as beseems 
its super-simplified Infinity, and is participated in by 
all uniquely, even as a voice, whilst being one and 
the same, is participated in by many ears as one. 

Section X. 
The Pre-existing then is beginning and end of 
existing things ; beginning indeed as Cause, and end 
as for whom ; and term of all, and infinitude of all 
infinitude ; and term, especially, of things that are, 
as it were, opposed. For in One, as we have often 
said, He both pre-holds and sustains all existing 
things, being present to all, and everywhere, both as 
regards the one, and the same, and as the every same, 
and issuing forth to all, and abiding in Himself; 
and standing and moving, and neither standing nor 

on Divine Names. 83 

moving ; neither having beginning, or middle, or 
end ; neither in any of the existing things, nor being 
any of the existing things. And neither does any of 
the things eternally existing, or those temporarily 
subsisting, entirely come up to Him, but He towers 
above time and eternity, and all things eternal and 
temporal. Wherefore also, He is Eternity itself, and 
things existing, and the measures of things existing, 
and things measured through Him and from Him. 
But let us speak of these things more opportunely on 
another occasion. 


Concerning Life. 
Section I. 
Now let us sing the Eternal Life, from which 
comes the sdf^existmg Lite, and every life; and 
from which, to all things however partaking of life, 
is distributed the power to live appropriately to each. 
Certainly the life and the immortality of the im- 
mortal Angels, and the very indestructibility of the 
angelic perpetual motion, both is, and is sustained 
from It, and by reason of It. Wherefore, they are 
also called living always and immortal; and again, 
not immortal, because not from themselves have they 
their immortality and eternal life; but from the 
vivifying Cause forming and sustaining all life ; and 
as we said of Him, Who is, that He is Age even 
of the self-existing Being, so also here again (we say) 
that the Divine Life, which is above life, is life- 

84 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

giving and sustaining even of the self-existing Life j 
and every life and life-giving movement is from the 
Life which is above every life, and all source of all 
life. From It, even the souls have their indestructi- 
bility, and all living creatures, and plants in their 
most remote echo of life, have their power to live. 
And when It is "taken away," according to the 
Divine saying, all life fails, and to It even things 
that have failed, through their inability to participate 
in It, when again returning, again become living 

Section II. 

And It gives chiefly to the self-existing Life to be 
a life, and to every life, and to the individual life, 
that each should be conformable to that which 
nature intended it to be. And to the supercelestial 
lives It gives the immaterial and godlike, and un- 
changeable immortality; and the unswerving and 
undeviating perpetual movement ; whilst extending 
Itself through excess of goodness, even to the life of 
demons u . For, neither has this its being from another 
cause, but from It life has both its being and its 
continuance. Further, It bequeaths even to men 
the angelic life, so far as is possible to compound 
being, and through an overflowing love towards man 
turns, and calls us back to Itself, even when we 
are departing from It ; and, what is still more Divine, 
promises to transfer even our whole selves (I mean 
souls, and bodies their yoke-fellows), to a perfect life 

u Rom. xi. 29, "For the gifts of God are without repent- 

on Divine Names. 85 

and immortality ;— a fact which perhaps seems to 
Antiquity contrary to nature, but to me, and to thee, 
and to the truth, both Divine and above nature. 
But, by " above nature," I understand our visible 
nature, not the all-powerful nature of the Divine 
Life. For, to this, as being nature of all the living 
creatures, and especially the more Divine, no life is 
against nature, or above nature. So that the con- 
tradictory statements of Simon's folly on this matter, 
let them be far repelled from a Divine assembly, 
and from thy reverent soul. For this escaped him, 
as I imagine, whilst thinking to be wise, that the 
right-thinking man ought not to use the visible 
reason of the sensible perception, as an ally against 
the invisible Cause of all ; and this must be our 
reply to him, that his statement is against nature, for 
to It nothing is contrary. 

Section III. 
From It, both all living creatures and plants 
draw their life and nourishment ; and whether you 
speak of intellectual, or rational, or sensible, or 
nourishing, or growing, or whatever, life, or source 
of life, or essence of life, from It, which is above 
every life, it both lives and thrives; and in It, as 
Cause, uniformly pre-existed. For the super-living, 
and life-springing Life is Cause both of all life, and is 
generative, and completive, and dividing of life, and 
is to be celebrated from every life, in consequence of 
its numerous generation of all lives, as Manifold, 
and contemplated, and sung by every life ; and as 

86 Dionysius the Areopapte, 

without need, yea, rather, superfull of life, the Self- 
living, and above every life, causing to live and super- 
living, or in whatever way one might extol the 
life which is unutterable by human speech. 


Concerning Wisdom, Mind, Reason, Truth, Faith. 

Section I, 
Come then, if you please, let us sing the good 
and eternal Life, both as wise, and as wisdom's self; 
yea, rather, as sustaining all wisdom, and being 
superior to all wisdom and understanding. For, 
not only is Almighty God superfull of wisdom, and 
of His understanding there is no number, but He 
is fixed above all reason and mind and wisdom. 
And, when the truly divine man, the common sun 
of us, and of our leader, had thought this out, in 
a sense above nature, he says, "the foolishness of 
God is wiser than men," (meaning) not only that all 
human intelligence is a sort of error, when tried by 
the stability and durability of the Divine and most 
perfect conceptions, but that it is even usual with 
the theologians to deny, with respect to God, things 
of privation, in an opposite sense. Thus, the Oracles 
declare, the All-luminous Light, invisible, and Him, 
Who is often sung, and of many names, to be un- 
utterable and without name, and Him, Who is present 
to all, and is found of all, to be incomprehensible 
and past finding out. In this very way, even now, the 

on Divine Names. 87 

Divine Apostle is said to have celebrated as " foolish- 
ness of God," that which appears unexpected and 
absurd in it, (but) which leads to the truth which is 
unutterable and before all reason. But, as I else- 
where said, by taking the things above us, in a sense 
familiar to ourselves, and by being entangled by 
what is congenial to sensible perceptions, and by 
comparing things Divine with our own conditions, 
we are led astray through following the Divine and 
mystical reason after a mere appearance. We ought 
to know that our mind has the power for thought, 
through which it views things intellectual, but that 
the union through which it is brought into contact 
with things beyond itself surpasses the nature of 
the mind. We must then contemplate things Di- 
vine, after this Union, not after ourselves, but by 
our whole selves, standing out of our whole selves, 
and becoming wholly of God. For it is better to 
be of God, and not of ourselves. For thus things 
Divine will be given to those who become dear 
to God. Celebrating then, in a superlative sense, 
this, the irrational and mindless and foolish Wisdom, 
wei affirm that It is Cause of all mind and reason, 
and all wisdom and understanding ; and of It is 
every counsel, and from It every knowledge and 
understanding ; and in It all the treasures of wisdom 
and knowledge are hidden. For, agreeably to the 
things already spoken, the super-wise, and all-wise 
Cause is a mainstay * even of the self-existing Wisdom, 
both the universal and the individual. 

1 See Caput XL, Section VI. 

88 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

Section II. 
From It the contemplated and contemplating 
powers of the angelic Minds have their simple 
and blessed conceptions; collecting their divine 
knowledge, not in portions, or from portions, or 
sensible perceptions, or detailed reasonings, or 
arguing from something common to these things, 
but purified from everything material and multitu- 
dinous, they contemplate the conceptions of Divine 
things intuitively, immaterially and uniformly, and 
they have their intellectual power and energy re- 
splendent with the unmixed and undefiled purity, 
and see at a glance the Divine conceptions indi- 
visibly and immaterially, and are by the Godlike 
One moulded, as attainable by reason of the Divine 
Wisdom, to the Divine and Super-wise Mind and 
Reason. And souls have their reasoning power, in- 
vestigating the truth of things by detailed steps and 
rotation, and through their divided and manifold 
variety falling short of the single minds, but, by the 
collection of many towards the One, deemed worthy, 
even of conceptions equal to the angels, so far 
as is proper and attainable to souls. But, even as 
regards the sensible perceptions themselves, one 
would not miss the mark, if one called them an 
echo of wisdom. Yet, even the mind of demons, 
qud mind, is from It; but so far as a mind is ir- 
rational, not knowing, and not wishing to attain 
what it aspires to, we must call it more properly 
a declension from wisdom. But, since the Divine 
Wisdom is called source, and cause, and mainstay, 

on Divine JVames. 89 

and completion and guard, and term of wisdom 
itself, and of every kind, and of every mind and 
reason, and every sensible perception, how then is 
Almighty God Himself, the super-wise, celebrated as 
Mind and Reason and Knowledge? For, how will 
He conceive any of the objects of intelligence, 
seeing He has not intellectual operations? or how 
will He know the objects of sense, seeing He is 
fixed above all sensible perception ? Yet the Oracles 
affirm that He knoweth all things, and that nothing 
escapes the Divine Knowledge. But, as I have been 
accustomed to say many times before, we must con- 
template things Divine, in a manner becoming God. 
For the mindless, and the insensible, we must attribute 
to God, by excess — not by defect, just as we attribute 
the irrational to Him Who is above reason ; and 
imperfection, to the Super-perfect, and Pre-perfect ; 
and the impalpable, and invisible gloom, to the light 
which is inaccessible on account of excess of the 
visible light. So the Divine Mind comprehends 
all things, by His knowledge surpassing all, having 
anticipated within Himself the knowledge of all, 
as beseems the Cause of all; before angels came 
to being, knowing and producing angels ; and know- 
ing all the rest from within ; and, so to speak, from 
the Source Itself, and by bringing into being. And, 
this, I think, the sacred text teaches, when it says, 
" He, knowing all things, before their birth." For, 
not as learning existing things from existing things, 
does the Divine Mind know, but from Itself, and 
in Itself, as Cause, it pre-holds and pre-comprehends 

90 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

the notion and knowledge, and essence of all things \ 
not approaching each several thing according to its 
kind, but knowing and containing all things, within 
one grasp of the Cause ; just as the light, as cause, 
presupposes in itself the notion of darkness, not 
knowing the darkness otherwise than from the light. 
The Divine Wisdom then, by knowing Itself, will 
know all things ; things material, immaterially, and 
thing6 divisible, indivisibly, and things many, uni- 
formly; both knowing and producing all things by 
Itself, the One. For even, if as becomes one Cause, 
Almighty God distributes being to all things that 
be, as beseems the self-same, unique Cause, He will 
know all things, as being from Himself, and pre- 
established in Himself, and not from things that be 
will He receive the knowledge of them ; but even 
to each of them, He will be provider of the know- 
ledge of themselves, and of the mutual knowledge 
of each other. Almighty God, then, has not one know- 
ledge, that of Himself, peculiar to Himself, and an- 
other, which embraces in common all things existing ; 
for the very Cause of all things, by knowing Itself, 
will hardly, I presume, be ignorant of the things 
from Itself, and of which It is Cause. In this way 
then, Almighty God knows existing things, not by 
a knowledge of things existing, but by that of 
Himself. For the Oracles affirm, that the angels 
also know things on the earth, not as knowing 
them by sensible perceptions, although objects of 
sensible perception, but by a proper power and 
mature of the Godlike Mind. 

on Divine Names. 9 r 

Section III. 
In addition to these things, we must examine how 
we know God, Who is neither an object of intel- 
lectual nor of sensible perception, nor is absolutely 
anything of things existing. Never, then, is it true 
to say, that we know God ; not from His own nature 
(for that is unknown, and surpasses all reason and 
mind), but, from the ordering of all existing things, 
as projected from Himself, and containing a sort 
of images and similitudes of His Divine exemplars, 
we ascend, as far as we have power, to that which 
is beyond all, by method and order in the abstraction 
and pre-eminence of all, and in the Cause of all. 
Wherefore, Almighty God is known even in all, and 
apart from all. And through knowledge, Almighty 
God is known, and through agnosia. And there is, 
of Him, both conception, and expression, and science, / 

and contact, and sensible perception, and opinion, 
and imagination, and name, and all the rest. And 
He is neither conceived, nor expressed, nor named. 
And He is not any of existing things, nor is He 
known in any one of existing things, And He is all 
in all, and nothing in none. And He is known to 
all, from all, and to none from none. For, we 
both say these things correctly concerning God, and 
He is celebrated from all existing things, according 
to the analogy of all things, of which He is Cause. 
And there is, further, the most Divine Knowledge 
of Almighty God, which is known, through not 
knowing (agnosia) during the union above mind; 
when the mind, having stood apart from all existing 

92 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

things, then having dismissed also itself, has been 
made one with the super-luminous rays, thence and 
there being illuminated by the unsearchable depth 
of wisdom. Yet, even from all things, as I said, 
we may know It, for It is, according to the sacred 
text, the Cause formative of all, and ever harmo- 
nizing all, and (Cause) of the indissoluble adapta- 
tion and order of all, and ever uniting v the ends of 
the former to the beginnings of those that follow, 
and beautifying the one symphony and harmony 
of the whole. 

Section IV. 
But Almighty God is celebrated in the holy 
Oracles as " Logos " ; not only because He is pro- 
vider of reason and mind and wisdom, but because 
He anticipated the causes of all, solitarily in Him- 
self, and because He passes through all, as the 
Oracles say, even to the end of all things; and 
even more than these, because the Divine Word 
surpasses every simplicity, and is set free from all, as 
the Superessential. This " Logos " is the simple and 
really existing truth, around which, as a pure and 
unerring knowledge of the whole, the Divine Faith 
is — the enduring foundation of the believers — which 
establishes them in the truth, and the truth in them, 
by an unchangeable identity, they having the pure 
knowledge of the truth of the things believed. For, 
if knowledge unites the knowing and the known, but 
ignorance is ever a cause to the ignorant person of 

? True theory of evolution. 

on Divine Names. 93 

change, and of separation from himself, nothing will 
move one who has believed in the truth, according 
to the sacred Logos, from true Faith's Sanctuary 
upon which he will have the steadfastness of his 
unmoved, unchangeable identity. For, well does 
he know, who has been united to the Truth, that 
it is well with him although the multitude may ad- 
monish him as " wandering." For it probably escapes 
them, that he is wandering from error to the truth, 
through the veritable faith. But, he truly knows 
himself, not, as they say, mad, but as liberated from 
the unstable and variable course around the mani- 
fold variety of error, through the simple, and ever 
the same, and similar truth. Thus then the early 
leaders z of our Divine Theosophy are dying every 
day, on behalf of truth, testifying as is natural, both 
by every word and deed, to the one knowledge of 
the truth of the Christians, that it is of all, both 
more simple and more Divine, yea rather, that it 
is the sole true and one and simple knowledge 
of God. 


Concerning power, justice, preservation, redemption, 

in which also concerning inequality. 

Section I. 

But since the theologians sing the Divine truth 

fulness and super-wise wisdom, both as power and 

z First persecution of Nero. 

94 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

as justice, arid designate It preservation and re- 
demption, come then, let us unfold these Divine 
Names also, as best we can. Now, that the God- 
head is pre-eminent above, and surpasses every 
power, howsoever being and conceived, I do not 
suppose any of those nourished in the Divine 
Oracles does not know. For on many occasions 
the -Word of God attributes the Lordship to It, 
even when distinguishing It from the supercelestial 
powers themselves. How then do the theologians 
sing it also as a Power, which is pre-eminent above 
every power? or how ought we to understand the 
name of power as applied to It ? 

Section II. 
We say, then, that Almighty God is Power, as pre- 
having, and super-having, every power in Himself, 
and as Author of every power, and producing every- 
thing as beseems a Power inflexible and unencom- 
passed, and as being Author of the very existence of 
power, either the universal or particular, and as 
boundless in power, not only by the production of 
all power, but by being above all, even the self, 
existent Power, and by His superior power, and 
by His bringing into existence, ad infinitum, endless 
powers other than the existing powers ; and by the 
fact that the endless powers, even when brought into 
existence without end, are not able to blunt the 
super-endless production of His power-making power; 
and by the unutterable and unknown, and incon- 
ceivable nature of His all-surpassing power, which, 

on Divine Names. 95 

through abundance of the powerful, gives power even 
to weakness, and holds together and preserves the 
remotest of its echoes; as also we may see even 
with regard to the powerful insensible perception, 
that the super-brilliant lights reach even to obscure 
visions, and they say, that the loud sounds enter 
even into ears which are not very well adapted to the 
reception of sounds. For that which does not hear 
at all is not hearing ; and that which does not see at 
all is not sight. 

Section III. 

The distribution, then, of boundless power, from 
Almighty God, passes to all beings, and there is no 
single being which is utterly deprived of the pos- 
session of some power ; but it has either intellectual, 
or rational, or sensible, or vital, or essential power ; 
yea even, if one may say so, self-existent being has 
power to be from the superessential Power. 

Section IV. 

From It, are the godlike powers of the angelic 
ranks ; from It, they have their immutability, and all 
their intellectual and immortal perpetual movements ; 
and their equilibrium itself, and their undiminishable 
aspiration after good, they have received from the 
Power boundless in goodness ; since It commits to 
them the power to be, and to be such, and to aspire 
always to be, and the power itself to aspire to have 
the power always. 

9 6 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

Section V. 
But the gifts of the unfailing Power pass on, both 
to men and living creatures, and plants, and the 
entire nature of the universe; and It empowers 
things united for their mutual friendship and com- 
munion, and things divided for their being each with- 
in their own sphere and limit, without confusion, and 
without mingling ; and preserves the order and good 
relations of the whole, for their own proper good, 
and guards the undying lives of the individual angels 
inviolate ; and the heavenly and the life-giving and 
astral bodies* and orders without change: and 
makes the period of time possible to be ; and dis- 
perses the revolutions of time by their progressions, 
and collects them together by their returns; and 
makes the powers of fire unquenchable, and the 
rills of water unfailing; and sets bounds to the 
aerial current, and establishes the earth upon no- 
thing ; and guards its life-giving throes from perish- 
ing ; and preserves the mutual harmony and ming- 
ling of the elements without confusion, and without 
division ; and holds together the bond of soul and 
body; and arouses the nourishing and growing 
powers of plants ; and sustains the essential powers 
of the whole ; and secures the continuance of the 
universe without dissolution, and bequeaths the 
deification Itself, by furnishing a power for this to 
those who are being deified. And in a word, there 
is absolutely no single thing which is deprived of 

* ovoia.%. 

on Divine Names. 97 

the overruling surety and embrace of the Divine 

Power. For that which absolutely has no power, 

neither is, nor is anything, nor is there any sort of 
position of it whatever. 

Section VI. 
Yet Elymas, the Magician, says, "if Almighty 
God is All-powerful, how is He said by your theo- 
logian, not to be able to do some thing " ? But he 
calumniates the Divine Paul, who said, "that Al- 
mighty God is not able to deny Himself." Now in 
advancing this, I very much fear lest I should incur 
ridicule for folly, as undertaking to pull down frail 
houses, built upon the sand by little boys at play ; 
and as being eager to aim at the theological in- 
telligence of this, as if it were some inaccessible 
mark. For, the denial of Himself, is a falling from 
truth, but the truth is an existent, and the falling 
from the truth is a falling from the existent. If, then, 
the truth is an existent, and the denial of the truth a 
falling from the existent, Almighty God cannot fall 
from the existent, and non-existence is not ; as any 
one might say, the powerless is not powerful; and 
ignorance, by privation, does not know. The wise 
man, not having understood this, imitates those 
inexperienced wrestlers, who, very often, by as- 
suming that their adversaries are weak, according to 
their own opinion, and manfully making a show of 
fight with them, when absent, and courageously beat- 
ing the air with empty blows, think that they have 
overcome their antagonists, and proclaim themselves 

9 8 Diony sius the Areopagite, 

victors (though) not yet having experienced their 
rivals' strength. But we, conjecturing the meaning 
of the Theologian to the best of our ability, celebrate 
the Super-powerful God, as Omnipotent, as blessed, 
and only Lord ; as reigning in the kingdom of Eter- 
nity itself; as in no respect fallen from things exist- 
ing ; -but rather, as both super-having and pre-having 
all existing things, as beseems Power superessential ; 
and as having bequeathed to all things being, the 
power to be, and this their being in an ungrudging 
stream, as beseems abundance of surpassing power. 

Section VII. 
But further, Almighty God is celebrated as justice, 
as distributing things suitable to all, both due 
measure, and beauty, and good order, and arrange- 
ment, and marking out all distributions and orders 
for each, according to that which truly is the most 
just limit, and as being Cause for all of the free 
action of each. For the Divine Justice arranges 
and disposes all things, and preserving all things 
unmingled and unconfused, from all, gives to all 
existing beings things convenient for each, according 
to the due b falling to each existing thing. And, 
if we speak correctly, all those who abuse the 
Divine Justice, unconsciously convict themselves of 
a manifest injustice. For they say, that immortality 
ought to be in mortals, and perfection in the im- 
perfect, and imposed necessity in the free, and 

on Divine Names. 99 

identity in the variable, and perfect power in the 
weak, and the temporal should be eternal, and 
things moveable by nature, unchangeable, and that 
temporary pleasures should be eternal ; and in one 
word, they assign the properties of one thing to 
another. They ought to know that the Divine 
Justice in this respect is really a true justice, be- 
cause it distributes to all the things proper to them- 
selves, according to the fitness of each existing 
thing, and preserves the nature of each in its own 
order and capacity. 

Section VIII. 
But some one may say, it is not the mark of justice 
to leave pious men without assistance, when they 
are ground down by evil men. To which we must 
reply, that, if those whom you call pious do indeed 
love things on earth, which are zealously sought 
after by the earthly, they have altogether fallen from 
the Divine Love. And I do not know how they 
could be called pious, when they unjustly treat 
things truly loveable and divine, which do not at 
once surpass in influence in their estimation things 
undesirable and unloveable. But, if they love the 
realities, they who desire certain things ought to 
rejoice when they attain the things desired. Are 
they not then nearer the angelic virtues, when, as 
far as possible, by aspiration after things Divine, 
they withdraw from the affection for earthly things, 
by being exercised very manfully to this, in their 
perils, on behalf of the beautiful ? So that, it is true 

i oo Dionysius the Areopagite, 

to say, that this is rather a property of the Divine 
Justice — not to pamper and destroy the bravery of 
the best, by the gifts of earthly things, nor, if any one 
should attempt to do this, to leave them without 
assistance, but to establish them in the excellent and 
harsh condition, and to dispense to them, as being 
such, things meet for them. 

Section IX, 
This Divine Justice, then, is celebrated also even 
as preservation of the whole, as preserving and 
guarding the essence and order of each, distinct and 
pure from the rest ; and as being genuine cause 
of each minding its own business in the whole. But, 
if any one should also celebrate this preservation, 
as rescuing savingly the whole from the worse, we 
will entirely accept this as the cantique of the 
manifold preservation, and we will deem him worthy 
to define this even as the principal preservation 
of the whole, which preserves all things in them- 
selves, without change, undisturbed and unswaying 
to the worse ; and guards all things without strife 
and without war, each being regulated by their own 
methods ; and excludes all inequality and minding 
others' business, from the whole j and maintains the 
relations of each from falling to things contrary, and 
from migrating. And since, without missing the 
mark of the sacred theology, one might celebrate 
this preservation as redeeming all things existing, 
by the goodness which is preservative of all, from 
falling away from their own proper goods, so far 

on Divine Names. 


as the nature of each of those who are being pre- 
served admits ; wherefore also the Theologians name 
it redemption, both so far as it does not permit 
things really being to fall away to non-existence, and 
so far as, if anything should have been led astray 
to discord an (J disorder, and should suffer any di 
minution of the perfection of its own proper goods, 
even this it redeems from passion and listlessness 
and loss ; supplying what is deficient, and paternally 
overlooking the slackness, and raising up from evil ; 
yea, rather, establishing in the good, and filling 
up the leaking good, and arranging and adorning 
its disorder and deformity, and making it complete, 
and liberating it from all its blemishes. But let 
this suffice concerning these matters, and concerning 
Justice, in accordance with which the equality of 
all is measured and defined, and every inequality, 
which arises from deprivation of the equality, in each 
thing severally, is excluded. For, if any one should 
interpret inequality as distinctions in the whole, 
of the whole, in relation to the whole, Justice guards 
even this, not permitting the whole, when they have 
become mingled throughout, to be thrown into con- 
fusion, but keeping all existing things within each 
particular kind, in which each was intended by nature 
to be. 

102 D ion y si its the Areopagite, 


Concerning great, small, same, different, similar, 
dissi?nilar, standing, movetnent, equality. 

Section I. 
But since even the great and the small are at- 
tributed to the Cause of all, and the same, and the 
different, and the similar, and the dissimilar, and 
the standing, and the movement. Come ! and let 
us gaze upon these images of the Divine Names, 
such as have been manifested to us. Almighty God, 
then, is celebrated in the Oracles as great, both 
in greatness and in a gentle breeze, which manifests 
the Divine littleness; and as the same, when the 
Oracles declare " thou art the same " ; and as dif- 
ferent, when He is depicted, by the same Oracles, 
as of many shapes and many forms ; and as similar, 
as mainstay of things similar and similitude ; and 
as dissimilar to all, as the like of whom there is not ; 
and as standing, and unmoved, and seated for ever ; 
and as moving, as going forth to all ; and whatever 
other Divine Names, of the same force with these, 
are celebrated by the Oracles. 

Section II. 
Almighty God, then, is named great in reference 
to His own peculiar greatness, which imparts itself 
to all things great ; and overflows, and extends itself 
outside of all greatness; embracing every place, 
surpassing every number, going through every infi- 
nitude, both in reference to its super-fulness, and 

on Divine Names. 103 

mighty operation, and its fontal gifts, in so far as 
these, being participated by all in a stream of bound- 
less gifts, are altogether undiminished, and have 
the same superfulness, and are not lessened by 
the impartations, but are even still more bubbling 
over. This Greatness then is infinite, and without 
measure and without number. And this is the pre- 
eminence as regards the absolute and surpassing 
flood of the incomprehensible greatness. 

Section III. 
But little, i.e. fine, is affirmed respecting Him, — 
that which leaves behind every mass and distance, 
and penetrates through all, without hindrance. Yet 
the little is Elemental c Cause of all, for nowhere 
will you find the idea of the little unparticipated. 
Thus then the little must be received as regards 
God as penetrating to all, and through all, without 
impediment ; and operating, and piercing through, 
to " a dividing of soul and spirit, and joints and 
marrow"; and "discerning thoughts and intents of 
heart," yea rather — all things that be. For there 
is not a creature unmanifest in His sight. This 
littleness is without quality and without quantity, 
without restraint, without limit, without bound, com- 
prehending all things, but itself incomprehensible. 

Section IV. 
But the same is superessentially everlasting, incon- 
vertible, abiding in itself, always being in the same 

c Atomic theory. 

104 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

condition and manner ; present to all in the same 
manner, and itself by itself, upon itself, firmly and 
purely fixed in the most beautiful limits of the super- 
essential sameness, without changing, without falling, 
without swerving, unalterable, unmingled, immaterial, 
most simplex, self-sufficient, without increase, without 
diminution, unoriginated, not as not yet come into 
being, or unperfected, or not having become from 
this, or that, nor as being in no manner of way 
whatever, but as all unoriginated, and absolutely 
unoriginated, and ever being; and being self-com- 
plete, and being the same by itself, and differ- 
entiated by itself in one sole and same form ; and 
shedding sameness from itself to all things adapted 
to participate in It ; and assigning things different 
to those different ; abundance and cause of identity, 
preholding identically in itself even things contrary, 
as beseems the One and unique Cause, surpassing 
the whole identity. 

Section V. 
But the different, since Almighty God is present 
to all providentially, and becomes all in all, for the 
sake of the preservation of all, resting upon Himself, 
and His own identity within Himself, standing, as 
beseems an energy, one and ceaseless, and imparting 
Himself with an unbending power, for deification 
of those turned to Him. And we must suppose that 
the difference of the manifold shapes of Almighty 
God, during the multiform visions, signifies that 
certain things are different from the phenomena 

on Divine Names, 105 

under which they appear. For, as when language 
depicts the soul itself, under a bodily form, and 
fashions bodily members around the memberless, we 
think differently of the members attributed to it, as 
befits the soul's memberless condition ; and we call 
the mind head, and opinion neck, — as intermediate 
between rational and irrational — and anger, breast ; 
and lust, belly j and the constitution, legs and feet ; 
using the names of the members as symbols of the 
powers. Much more then, as respects Him, Who is 
beyond all, is it necessary to make clear the differ- 
ence of forms and shapes by reverent and God- 
becoming, and mystic explanations. And if you 
wish to apply the threefold shapes of bodies to the 
impalpable and shapeless God, you must say, that 
the Progression of Almighty God, which spreads out 
to all things, is a Divine extension ; and length, the 
power extending itself over the whole; and depth, 
the hiddenness and imperception d incomprehensible 
to all creatures. But, that we may not forget our- 
selves, in our explanation, of the different shapes and 
forms, by confounding the incorporeal Divine Names 
with those given through symbols of objects of sense, 
we have for this reason spoken concerning these 
things in the Symbolic Theology. But now, let us 
suppose the Divine difference, as really not a sort 
of change from the superimmovable identity, but as 
the single multiplication of itself, and the uniform 
progressions of its fecundity to all 

d ayvuaiav. 

106 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

Section VI. 
But similar, if any one might speak of Almighty 
God as the same, as being wholly throughout, similar 
to Himself— abidingly and indivisibly ; we must not 
despise the Divine Name of the Similar; but the 
Theologians affirm that the God above all, in His 
essential nature, is similar to none; but that He 
bequeaths a Divine similarity to those who turn to 
Him, Who is above every limit and expression, by 
imitation according to their capacity. And there is 
the power of the Divine similitude, which turns all 
created things to the Cause. These things, then, 
must be said to be similar to Almighty God, both 
after a Divine likeness and similitude. For, neither 
must we say that Almighty God is similar to them, 
because neither is a man like his own image. For, 
with regard to those of the same rank, it is possible 
that these should be similar to each other, and that 
the similarity corresponds to each, and that both are 
similar to each other, after a preceding appearance 
of like. But, with respect to the Cause and the things 
caused, we do not accept the correspondence. For, 
the being similar is bequeathed, not to these, or 
those, alone, but to all those who participate in 
similarity. Almighty God becomes Cause of their 
being similar, and is mainstay of the self-existing 
Similarity itself; and the similar in all is similar to 
a sort of footprint of the Divine Similarity and com- 
pletes their Oneness. 

on Divine Names. 107 

Section VII. 
And what must we say concerning this ? For the 
Word of God Itself extols the fact that He is dissimi- 
lar, and of the same rank with none ; as " different " 
even from everything, and, what is more paradoxical, 
says there is nothing that is similar to Him. Yet 
the expression is not contrary to the similarity to- 
wards Him, for the same things are both similar to 
God, and dissimilar — the former as regards the re- 
ceived imitation e of the inimitable, the latter as 
regards the dependence of the things caused upon 
the cause, and their being inferior in degrees, endless 
and incalculable. 

Section VIII. 
But what also do we say concerning the Divine 
standing, i.e. seat? What other than that Almighty 
God remains Himself, in Himself, and is abidingly 
fixed in unmoved identity, and is firmly established 
on high • and that He acts according to the same 
conditions, and in reference to the same object, and 
in the same way; and that He exists altogether, as 
beseems the immutability from Himself; and as be- 
seems the immovability Itself, entirely immovable, 
and that superessentially. For He is Cause of the 
standing and sitting of all, Who is above all sitting 
and standing, and in Him all things consist, being 
kept from falling out of the state of their own proper 

e Letter 2. 

1 08 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

Section IX. 
But what again, when the Theologians say, that 
the unmoved goes forth to all, and is moved? Must 
we not understand this in a sense befitting God? 
For we must reverently suppose that He is moved, 
not as beseems carriage, or change, or alteration, 
or turning, or local movement, or the straight, or the 
circular, or that from both (curvative), or the intel- 
lectual, or the spiritual, or the physical, but that 
Almighty God brings into being and sustains every- 
thing, and provides in every way for everything ; 
and is present, to all, by the irresistible embrace of 
all, and by His providential progressions and opera- 
tions to all existing things. But we must concede to 
our discourse, to celebrate in a sense becoming God, 
even movements of God, the immovable. And the 
straight must be considered (to be) the unswerving 
and the undeviating progression of the operation, and 
the production from Himself of the whole ; and the 
curvative — the steady progression and the productive 
condition ; and the circular-rthe same, and the hold- 
ing together the middle and extremities, which en- 
compass and are encompassed, — and the turning to 
Him of the things which proceeded from Him. 

Section X. 
But, if any one should take the Divine Name in 
the Oracles, of fl the same," or that of " justice," in 
the sense of •" the equal" we must say, that Almighty 
God is equal, not only as indivisible and unswerving, 
but also as going forth to all, and through all, 

on Divine Names. 


equally ; and as foundation of the self-existent 
Equality, in conformity with which, He equally 
effects the same passage, through all things mutually, 
and the participation of those who receive equally, 
according to the aptitude of each ; and the equal gift 
distributed to all, according to due ; and according 
as He has anticipated pre-eminently and uniquely 
in Himself, every equality, intelligible, intelligent, 
rational, sensible, essential, physical, voluntary, as 
beseems the Power over all, which is productive of 
every equality. 


Concerning Sovereign Lord, "Ancient of days" in 
which also, concerning Age and Time f . 

Section I. 
The time, then, is come for our discourse, to sing 
the God of many Names, as " Sovereign Lord," and 
as " Ancient of days." For He is called the former, 
by reason that He is an all-controlling basis, binding 
and embracing the whole, and establishing and sup- 
porting, and tightening, and completing the whole. 
Continuous in itself, and from itself, producing the 
whole, as it were from a Sovereign root, and turning 
to itself the whole, as to a sovereign parent stock, 
and holding them together as an all-embracing basis 
of all, securing all the things embraced, within one 
grasp superior to all, and not permitting them, when 

f Dulac, p. 226. 

1 10 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

fallen from itself to be destroyed, as moved from an 
all-perfect sanctuary. But the Godhead is called 
Sovereign, both as controlling and governing the 
members of His household, purely, and as being 
desired and beloved by all, and as placing upon all 
the voluntary yokes, and the sweet pangs of the 
Divine and Sovereign, and in dissolvable love of the 
Goodness itself. 

Section II. 

But Almighty God is celebrated as " Ancient of 
days" because He is of all things both Age and 
Time, — and before Days, and before Age and Time. 
And yet we must affirm that He is Time and Day, 
and appointed Time, and Age, in a sense befitting 
God, as being throughout every movement unchange- 
able and unmoved, and in His ever moving remain- 
ing in Himself, and as being Author of Age and 
Time and Days. Wherefore, in the sacred Divine 
manifestations of the mystic visions, He is repre- 
sented as both old and young ; the former indeed 
signifying the "Ancient" and being from the begin- 
ning, and the latter His never growing old ; or both 
teaching that He advances through all things from 
beginning to end, — or as our Divine initiator says, 
" since each manifests the priority of God, the Elder 
having the first place in Time, but the Younger the 
♦priority in number; because the unit, and things 
near the unit, are nearer the beginning than numbers 
further advanced. 

on Divine Names. 


Section III. 
But we must, as I think, see from the Oracles the 
nature of Time and Eternity, for they do not always 
(merely) call all the things absolutely unoriginated 
and really everlasting, eternal, but also things im- 
perishable and immortal and unchangeable, and 
things which are in like fashion, as when they say, 
" be ye opened, eternal doors," and the like. And 
often they characterize the things the most ancient 
by the name of Eternity; and again they call the 
whole duration of our time Eternity, in so far as the 
ancient and unchangeable, and the measurement of 
existence throughout, is a characteristic of Eternity. 
But they call time that concerned in generation and 
decay and change, and sometimes the one, and 
sometimes the other. Wherefore also, the Word of 
God says that even we, who are bounded here by 
time, shall partake of Eternity, when we have reached 
the Eternity which is imperishable and ever the same. 
But sometimes eternity is celebrated in the Oracles, 
even as temporal, and time as eternal. But if we 
know them better and more accurately, things spiri- 
tual 5 are spoken of and denoted by Eternity, and 
things subject to generation by time. It is necessary 
then to suppose that things called eternal are not 
absolutely co-eternal with God, Who is before 
Eternity, but that following unswervingly the most 
august Oracles, we should understand things eternal 
and temporal according to the hopes recognized by 

S t<x ovTa — actual. 

1 1 2 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

them, but whatever participates partly in eternity 
and partly in time, as things midway between things 
spiritual and things being born. But Almighty God 
we ought to celebrate, both as eternity and time, as 
Author of every time and eternity, and " Ancient of 
days/' as before time, and above time ; and as 
changing appointed seasons and times; and again 
as being before ages, in so far as He is both before 
eternity and above eternity and His kingdom, a king- 
dom of all the Ages. Amen. 


Concerning Peace, and what is jneant by the self-existent 
Being ; what is the self-existent Life, and what the 
self-existent Power, and such like expressions. 

Section I. 
Come, then, let us extol the Peace Divine, and 
Source of conciliation, by hymns of peace ! For this 
it is which unifies all, and engenders, and ejects the 
agreement and fellowship of all. Wherefore, even 
all things aspire to it, which turns their divided mul- 
tiplicity into the thorough Oneness, and unifies the 
tribal war of the whole into a homogeneous dwelling 
together, by the participation of the divine Peace. 
With regard, then, to the more reverend of the con- 
ciliating powers, these indeed are united to them- 
selves and to each other, and to the one Source 
of Peace of the whole ; and the things (that are) 
under them, these they unite also to themselves and 

on Divine Names. , 113 

to each other, and to the One and all-perfect Source 
and Cause of the Peace of all, which, passing in- 
divisibly to the whole, limits and terminates and 
secures everything, as if by a kind of bolts, which 
bind together things that are separated ; and do not 
permit them, when separated, to rush to infinity and 
the boundless, and to become without order, and 
without stability, and destitute of God, and to depart 
from the union amongst themselves, and to become 
intermingled in each other, in every sort of con- 
fusion. Concerning then, this, the Divine Peace and 
Repose, which the holy Justus calls unutterableness, 
and, as compared with every known progression, im- 
mobility, how it rests and is at ease, and how it is in 
itself, and within itself, and entire, and to itself 
entire is super-united, and when entering into itself, 
and multiplying itself, neither loses its own Union, 
but even proceeds to all, whilst remaining entire 
within, by reason of excess of its Union surpassing 
all, it is neither permitted, nor attainable to any 
existing being, either to express or to understand. 
But, having premised this, as unutterable and un- 
knowable, as being beyond all, let us examine its 
conceived and uttered participations, and this, as 
possible to men, and to us, as inferior to many good 

Section II. 

First then, this must be said, that It is mainstay 

of the self-existent Peace, both the general and the 

particular; and that It mingles all things with each 

other within their unconfused union, as beseems 


ii4 Dionysius the Areopagite^ 

which, united indivisibly, and at the same time they 
severally continuously unmingled stand, as regards 
their own proper kind, not muddled through their 
mingling with the opposite, nor blunting any 
of their unifying distinctness and purity. Let us 
then contemplate a certain One and simple nature 
of the peaceful Union, unifying all things to Itself, 
and to themselves, and to each other; and preserving 
all things in an unconfused grasp of all, both un- 
mingled and mingled together ; by reason of which 
the divine Minds, being united, are united to their 
own conceptions, and to the things conceived ; and 
again they ascend to the unknowable contact of 
things fixed above mind ; by reason of which, souls, 
by uniting their manifold reasonings, and collecting 
them together to an One intellectual Purity, advance 
in a manner proper to themselves, by method and 
order, through the immaterial and indivisible con- 
ception, to the union above conception ; by reason 
of which, the one and indissoluble connection of all 
is established, within its Divine Harmony, and is 
harmonized by complete concord and agreement 
and fellowship, being united without confusion, and 
held together without division. For the fulness of 
the perfect Peace passes through to all existing 
things, as beseems the most simple, and unmingled 
presence of Its unifying power, making all One. 
and binding the extremes through the intermediate 
to the extremes, which are yoked together in an one 
connatural friendship ; and bestowing the enjoyment 
1 T tself, even to the furthest extremities of the whole, 

on Divine Names. 115 

and making all things of one family, by the unities, 
the identities, the unions, the conjunctions of the 
Divine Peace, standing of course indivisibly, and 
showing all in one, and passing through all, and 
not stepping out of Its own identity. For It ad- 
vances to all, and imparts Itself to all, in a manner 
appropriate to them, and there overflows an abund- 
ance of peaceful fertility ; and It remains, through 
excess of union, super-united, entire, to and through- 
out Its whole self. 

Section III. 

But how, some one may say, do all things aspire 
to peace, for many things rejoice in diversity and 
division, and would not, at any time, of their own 
accord, be willingly in repose. Now, if in saying 
this, he affirms, that the identity of each existing 
thing is diversity and division, and that there is 
no existent thing whatever, which at any time is 
willing to destroy this (identity), neither would we 
in any way contradict this, but would delare even 
this an aspiration after peace. For all things love 
to dwell at peace, and to be united amongst them- 
selves, and to be unmoved and unfallen from them- 
selves, and the things of themselves. And the 
perfect Peace seeks to guard the idiosyncrasy of 
each unmoved and unconfused, by its peace-giving 
forethought, preserving everything unmoved and 
unconfused, both as regards themselves and each 
other, and establishes all things by a stable and 

1 1 6 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

unswerving power, towards their own peace and 

Section IV. 
And if all things in motion desire, not repose, 
but ever to make known their own proper movement, 
even this is an aspiration after the Divine Peace of 
the whole, which preserves all things from falling 
away of their own accord, and guards the idiosyn- 
crasy and moving life of all moving things unmoved 
and free from falling, so that the things moved, being 
at peace amongst themselves, and always in the 
same condition, perform their own proper functions. 

Section V. 
But if, in affirming the diversity as a falling from 
peace, he insists that peace is not beloved by all, 
verily there is no existing being which has entirely 
fallen from every kind of union ; for, the altogether 
unstable and infinite, and unestablished, and without 
limit, is neither an actual thing, nor in things actual. 
But if he says, that those are inimical to peace, and 
good things of peace, who rejoice in strife and anger 
and changes and disturbances, even these are con- 
trolled by obscure images of a peaceful aspiration ; 
being vexed by tumultuous passions, and ignorantly 
aspiring to calm them, they imagine that they will 
pacify themselves by the gratification of things which 
ever elude them, and they are disturbed by the non- 
attainment of the pleasures which overpowered them. 
What would any one say of the peaceful stream of 

on Divine Names. i t 7 

love towards man in Christ, according to which we have 
learned no longer to wage war, either with ourselves, 
or each other, or with angels, but that with them, 
according to our power, we should also be fellow- 
workers in Divine things, after the purpose of Jesus, 
Who worketh all in all, and forms a peace unutterable 
and pre-determined from Eternity, and reconciles us 
to Himself, in Spirit, and through Himself and in 
Himself to the Father; concerning which super- 
natural gifts it is sufficiently spoken in the Theological 
Outlines, whilst the Oracles of the sacred inspiration 
furnish us with additional testimony. 

Section VI. 
But, since you once asked me by letter, what 
in the world I consider the self-existent Being, the 
self-existent Life, the self-existent Wisdom, and said 
that you debated with yourself how, at one time, 
I call Almighty God, self-existent Life, and at 
another, Mainstay of the self-existent Life, I thought 
it necessary, O holy man of God, to also free you 
from this difficulty, so far as lay in my power. And 
first then, in order that we may now resume that 
which I have said a thousand times already, there 
is no contradiction in saying that Almighty God 
is self-existent Power, or self-existent Life, and that 
He is Mainstay of the self-existent Life or Peace 
or Power. For the latter, He is named from things 
existing, and specially from the first existing, as 
Cause of all existing things ; and the former, as being 
above all, even the first existing of beings, being 

! j 8 Diony sites the Apeopagite, 

above superessentially. But you say, what in the 
world do we call the self-existent Being, or the self- 
existent Life, or whatever we lay down to be ab- 
solutely and originally and to have stood forth 
primarily from God? And we reply, this is not 
crooked but straight, and has a simple explanation. 
For we do not say that the self-existent Being, as 
Cause of the being of all things, is a sort of Divine 
or angelic essence (for the Super-essential alone is 
Source and Essence and Cause of the existence of 
all things, and of the self-existent Being), nor that 
another Deity, besides the Super-divine, produces 
Life for all that live, and is a Life Causative of the 
self-existent Life; nor to speak summarily, that 
essences and personalities originate and make exist- 
ing things, so that superficial people have named them 
both gods, and creators of existing things,— whom, 
to speak truly and properly, neither they themselves 
knew (for they are non-existent), nor their fathers,— 
but we call self-existent Being, and self-existent Life, 
and self-existent Deity, as regards at least Source, 
and Deity, and Cause, the One Superior and Super- 
essential Source and Cause; but as regards Imparta- 
tion, the providential Powers, that issue forth from 
God the unparticipating, (these we call) the self- 
existent essentiation, self-existent living, self-existent 
deification, by participating in which according to 
their own capacity, things existing, both are, and 
are said to be, existing, and living, and full of God— 
and the rest in the same way. Wherefore also, He 
is called the good Mainstay of the first of these, then 

on Divine Names. 119 

of the whole of them, then of the portions of them, 
then of those who participate in them entirely, then 
of those who participate in them in part. And why 
must we speak of these things, since some of our 
divine instructors in holy things, affirm that the 
Super-good and Super-divine self-existent Goodness 
and Deity, is Mainstay even of the self-existent 
Goodness and Deity ; affirming that the good-making 
and deifying gift issued forth from God ; and that 
the self-existent beautifying stream, is self-existent 
beauty, and whole beauty, and partial beauty, and 
things absolutely beautiful, and things partially 
beautiful, and whatever other things are said and 
shall be said after the same fashion, which declare 
that providences and goodnesses issuing forth from 
God the unparticipating, in an ungrudging stream, 
are participated by existing things, and bubble over 
in order that distinctly the Cause of all may be 
beyond all, and the Superessential and Supernatural 
may, in every respect, be above things of any sort 
of essence and nature whatever. 


Concerning Holy of Holies, King of Kings, Lord of 
Lords, God of Gods. 

Section I. 
But since whatever we have to say on these 
matters has reached, in my opinion, a fitting con- 
clusion, we must sing Him of endless names, both 

120 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

as Holy of Holies and King of Kings ; and as ruling 
eternity and for ever and beyond, and as Lord of 
Lords, and God of Gods. And first we must say, 
what we think Holiness Itself is ; and what Kingdom, 
and what Lordship, and what Divinity, and what 
the Oracles wish to denote by the duplication of 
the names. 

Section II. 
Holiness then is (so far as we can say) the purity 
free from every pollution, and all perfect, and al- 
together unstained; Kingdom is the assignment of 
every limit and order, and ordinance and rank ; and 
Lordship is not only the superiority over the worse, 
but also the perfect possession, in every respect, 
of the Beautiful and Good; and a true and un- 
swerving stability. Wherefore Lordship is parallel 

tO TO KvpOS KOI TO KVpiOV, KOI TO KVpKTTOV h ', and Deity 

is the Providence watching over all, and with perfect 
goodness both circumscribing and grasping all, and 
filling with Itself, and surpassing all things which 
enjoy Its forethought. 

Section III. 
These things, then, must be sung absolutely, re- 
specting the Cause surpassing all, and we must 
add that It surpasses Holiness, and Lordship, and 
Kingdom, and most simplex 1 Deity. For, from It, 

h The rendering of which may be, the lordly, and the lord- 
lier, and the lordliest. 
1 Letter 2. 

on Divine Names. 121 

individually and collectively, were born and dis- 
tributed every untarnished distinctness of every spot- 
less purity, the whole arrangement and regulation 
of things existing, whilst It excludes want of harmony 
and want of equality, and want of symmetry, and 
rejoices over the well-ordered identity and rectitude, 
and leads round things, deemed worthy to participate 
in Itself. From It is all the perfect and complete 
possession of all good things, every good fore- 
thought, watching and sustaining the objects of Its 
forethought, imparting Itself, as befits Its goodness, 
for deification of those who are turned to It. 

Section IV. 

But since the Cause of all is super-full of all, as 
beseems the One superfluity which surpasses all, He 
is sung as Holy of Holies and the rest, as beseems 
an overflowing Cause, and a towering Pre-eminence. 
As one might say, so far as the things which are, — 
holy or divine, or lordly, or kingly, — surpass the things 
which are not, and the self-existent participations, 
their participants ; to such an extent is seated above 
all things that be, He Who is above all things that 
be, and the unparticipating Cause of all the par- 
ticipants and the participations. But Holy and 
Kings and Lords and Gods, the Oracles call the 
higher orders in each, through whom the inferior 
in participating the gifts from God, multiply the 
simplicity of their distribution around their own 
diversities, the variety of which, the superior 

122 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

orders carefully and divinely collect to their own 

Concerning Perfect and One. 
Section I. 
So much then on these matters; but let us now 
at last, with your good pleasure, approach the most 
difficult subject in the whole discourse. For the 
Word of God predicates everything, singly and 
collectively, respecting the Cause of all, and extols 
Him both as Perfect and as One\ He is then 
perfect not only as self-perfect, and solitarily sepa- 
rated within Himself, by Himself, and throughout 
most perfect, but also as super-perfect, as beseems 
His pre-eminence over all, and limiting every in- 
finitude, and surpassing every term, and by none 
contained or comprehended; but even extending 
at once to all, and above all, by His unfailing 
gratuities and endless energies. But, on the other 
hand, He is called perfect, both as without increase, 
and always perfect, and as undiminished, as pre- 
holding all things in Himself, and overflowing as 
beseems one, inexhaustible, and same, and super-full, 
and undiminished, abundance, in accordance with 
which He perfects all perfect things, and fills them 
with His own perfection. 

k Kal ws rcXfiov avrb Kal us fv apvfxvet. It should be noted 
that where He, Him and His are used in this Section, the 
Neuter is used in the Greek. 

on Divine Names. 123 

Section II. 

But One, because He is uniquely all, as beseems 
an excess of unique Oneness, and is Cause of all 
without departing from the One. For there is no 
single existing being, which does not participate 
in the one, but as every number participates in an 
unit, and one dual and one decade is spoken of, 
and one half, and one third and tenth, so everything, 
and part of everything participates in the one, and 
by the fact that the One is, all existing things are. 
And the Cause of all is not One, as one of many, 
but before every one and multitude, and determina- 
tive of every one and multitude. For there is no 
multitude which does not partake in some way 
or other of the one. Yea, that which is many by 
parts, is one in the whole; and the many by the 
accidents, is one by the subject; and the many 
by the number or the powers, is one by the species, 
and the many by the species, is one by the genus ; 
and the many by the progressions, is one by the 
source. And there is no single thing which does 
not participate in some way in • the one, which 
uniformly pre-held in the uniqueness throughout 
all, all and whole, all, even the things opposed. 
And indeed, without the one there will not be 
a multitude, but without the multitude there will 
be the one, even as the unit previous to every 
multiplied number ; and, if any one should suppose, 
that all things are united to all, the All will be one 
in the whole. 

I2 4 Dionysius the Areopagite^ 

Section III. 
Especially must this be known, that according 
to the pre-conceived species of each one, things 
united are said to be made one, and the one is 
elemental of all; and if you should take away 
the one, there will be neither totality nor part, 
nor any other single existing thing. For the one, 
uniformly, pre-held and comprehended all things 
in itself. For this reason, then, the Word of God 
celebrates the whole Godhead, as Cause of all, by 
the epithet of the One, both one God the Father, 
and one Lord Jesus Christ, and one and the same 
Spirit, by reason of the surpassing indivisibility of 
the whole Divine Oneness, in which all things' are 
uniquely collected, and are super-unified, and are 
with It superessentially. Wherefore also, all things 
are justly referred and attributed to It, by Which 
and from Which, and through Which, and in Which, 
and to Which, all things are, and are co-ordinated, 
and abide, and are held together, and are filled, 
and are turned towards It. And you would not 
find any existing thing, which is not what it is, 
and perfected and preserved, by the One, after which 
the whole Deity is superessentially named. And it 
is necessary also, that we being turned from the 
many to the One, by the power of the Divine One- 
ness, should celebrate as One the whole and one 
Deity — the one Cause of all — which is before every 
one and multitude, and part and whole, and limit 
and illimitability, and term and infinity, which bounds 
all things that be, even the Being Itself, and is 

on Divine Names. 125 

uniquely Cause of all, individually and collectively, 
and at the same time before all, and above all, 
and above the One existing Itself, and bounding 
the One existing Itself; since the One existing — that 
in things being — is numbered, and number partici- 
pates in essence ; but the superessential One bounds 
both the One existing, and every number, and Itself 
is, of both one and number, and every being, Source 
and Cause, and Number and Order. Wherefore also, 
whilst celebrated as Unit and Triad, the Deity above 
all is neither Unit nor Triad, as understood by us 
or by any other sort of being, but, in order that 
we may celebrate truly Its super-oneness, and Divine 
generation, by the threefold and single name of God, 
we name the Deity, Which is inexpressible to things 
that be, the Superessential. But no Unit nor Triad, 
nor number nor unity, nor productiveness, nor any 
other existing thing, or thing known to any existing 
thing, brings forth the hiddenness, above every ex- 
pression and every mind, of the Super-Deity Which 
is above all superessentially. Nor has It a Name, 
or expression, but is elevated above in the in- 
accessible. And neither do we apply the very Name 
of Goodness, as making it adequate to It, but 
through a desire of understanding and saying some- 
thing concerning that inexpressible nature, we con- 
secrate the most august of Names to It, in the first 
degree, and although we should be in accord in 
this matter with the theologians, yet we shall fall 
short of the truth of the facts. Wherefore, even 
they have given the preference to the ascent through 

i 2 6 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

negations, as lifting the soul out of things kindred 
to itself, and conducting it through all the Divine 
conceptions, above which towers that which is above 
every name, and every expression and knowledge, 
and at the furthest extremity attaching it to Him, 
as far indeed as is possible for us to be attached 
to that Being. 

Section IV. 
We then, having collected these intelligible Divine 
Names, have unfolded them to the best of our ability, 
falling short not only of the precision which belongs 
to them, (for this truly, even Angels might say) nor 
only of their praises as sung by Angels (and the chief 
of our Theologians come behind the lowest of them), 
nor indeed of the Theologians themselves, nor of 
their followers or companions, but even of those who 
are of the same rank as ourselves, last and sub- 
ordinate to them ; so that, if the things spoken should 
be correct, and, if we, as far as in us lies, have really 
reached the perception of the unfolding of the Divine 
Names, let the fact be ascribed to the Author of all 
good things, Who, Himself, bestows first the power 
to speak, then to speak well. And if any one of the 
Names of the same force has been passed over, that 
also you must understand according to the same 
methods. But, if these things are either incorrect or 
imperfect, and we have wandered from the truth, 
either wholly or partially, may it be of thy brotherly 
kindness to correct him, who unwillingly is ignorant, 
and to impart a word to him, who wishes to learn, 

on Divine Names. 127 

and to vouchsafe assistance to him, who has not 
power in himself; and to heal him, who, not wil- 
lingly, is sick; and having found out some things 
from thyself, and others from others, and receiving all 
from the good to transfer them also to us. By no 
means grow weary in doing good to a man thy friend, 
for thou perceivest, that we also have kept to our- 
selves none of the hierarchical communications 
transmitted to us, but have transmitted them without 
flaw, both to you and to other holy men, yea, and will 
continue to transmit them, as we may be sufficient to 
speak, and those to whom we speak, to hear, doing 
injury in no respect to the tradition, if at least we 
do not fail in the conception and expression thereof. 
But, let these things be held and spoken in such 
way, as is well pleasing to Almighty God ; and 
let this indeed be our conclusion to the intelligible 
Divine Names. But I will now pass to the Symbolic 
Theology 1 ^ with God for my Guide. 

1 See letter to Titus. 
27 October, 1896. 



" My love is crucified." 

Upon this passage I differ from all the com- 
mentators that I know. I believe the passage to 
have been written and inserted in the text by Diony- 
sius when writing this letter, which must have been 
before a.d. 98. I do not think it a quotation from the 
letter of Ignatius written just previous to his martyr- 
dom. I think Dionysius quoted some previous writing 
of Ignatius, in which he spoke of our Saviour as " My 
Love, Which is mine." That is the sense in this 
passage, to shew the exalted use of Love. In the 
letter of Ignatius to the Romans, he seems to use 
" love " in the sense of human passion or fire, and 
says that that is crucified in him. In any case, there 
is no chronological difficulty. Ignatius was martyred 
a.d. 107, Dionysius, a.d. 119. 


Mystic Theology is like that ladder set up on 
the earth whose top reached to Heaven on which 
the angels of God were ascending and descending, 
and above which stood Almighty God. The Angel 
ascending is the "negative" which distinguishes 
Almighty God from all created things. God is not 
matter — soul, mind, spirit, any being, nor even being 
itself, but above and beyond all these. The Angel 
descending is the "Affirmative." God is good, wise, 
powerful, the Being, until we come to Symbolic 
Theology, which denotes Him under material forms 
and conditions. Theology prefers the negative be- 
cause Almighty God is more appropriately presented 
by distinction than by comparison. 


What is the Divine Gloom ? 
Section I. 
Triad supernal, both super-God and super-good, 
Guardian of the Theosophy of Christian men, direct 
us aright to the super-unknown and super-brilliant 
and highest summit of the mystic Oracles, where 
the simple and absolute and changeless mysteries of 
theology lie hidden within the super-luminous gloom 
of the silence, revealing hidden things, which in its 
deepest darkness shines above the most super-bril- 
liant, and in the altogether impalpable and invisible, 
fills to overflowing the eyeless minds with glories of 
surpassing beauty. This then be my prayer; but 
thou, O dear Timothy, by thy persistent commerce 
with the mystic visions, leave behind both sensible 
perceptions and intellectual efforts, and all objects of 
sense and intelligence, and all things not being and 
being, and be raised aloft unknowingly to the union, 
as far as attainable, with Him Who is above every 
essence and knowledge. For by the resistless and 
absolute ecstasy in all purity, from thyself and all, 
thou wilt be carried on high, to the superessential ray 
of the Divine darkness, when thou hast cast away all, 
and become free from all. 

Dionysius the Areopagite, &>c 131 

Section II. 
But see that none of the uninitiated listen to these 
things — those I mean who are entangled in things 
being, and fancy there is nothing superessentially 
above things being, but imagine that they know, 
by their own knowledge, Him, Who has placed dark- 
ness as His hiding-place. But, if the Divine ini- 
tiations are above such, what would any one say 
respecting those still more uninitiated, such as both 
portray the Cause exalted above all, from the lowest 
of things created, and say that It in no wise excels 
the no-gods fashioned by themselves and of manifold 
shapes, it being our duty both to attribute and affirm 
all the attributes of things existing to It, as Cause of 
all, and more properly to deny them all to It, as 
being above all, and not to consider the negations to 
be in opposition to the affirmations, but far rather 
that It, which is above every abstraction and defi- 
nition, is above the privations. 

Section III. 
Thus, then, the divine Bartholomew says that Theo- 
logy is much and least, and the Gospel broad and 
great, and on the other hand concise. He seems to me 
to have comprehended this supernaturally, that the 
good Cause of all is both of much utterance, and at 
the same time of briefest utterance and without 
utterance; as having neither utterance nor concep- 
tion, because It is superessentially exalted above 
all, and manifested without veil and in truth, to those 
alone who pass through both all things consecrated 

! 32 Dionysius the Areopagite, 

and pure, and ascend above every ascent of all holy 
summits, and leave behind all divine lights and 
sounds, and heavenly words, and enter into the gloom, 
where really is, as the Oracles say, He Who is beyond 
all. For even the divine Moses is himself strictly 
bidden to be first purified, and then to be separated 
from those who are not so, and after entire cleansing 
hears the many-voiced trumpets, and sees many lights, 
shedding pure and streaming rays ; then he is separ- 
ated from the multitude, and with the chosen priests 
goes first to the summit of the divine ascents, al- 
though even then he does not meet with Almighty God 
Himself, but views not Him (for He is viewless) but 
the place where He is. Now this I think signifies 
that the most Divine and Highest of the things seen 
and contemplated are a sort of suggestive expression 
of the things subject to Him Who is above all, 
through which His wholly inconceivable Presence is 
shown, reaching to the highest spiritual summits of 
His most holy places ; and then he (Moses) is freed 
from them who are both seen and seeing, and enters 
into the gloom of the Agnosia; a gloom veritably 
mystic, within which he closes all perceptions of 
knowledge and enters into the altogether impalpable 
and unseen, being wholly of Him Who is beyond all, 
and of none, neither himself nor other; and by in- 
activity of all knowledge, united in his better part to 
the altogether Unknown, and by knowing nothing, 
knowing above mind. 

on Mystic Theology. 133 


How we ought both to be united and render praise 
to the Cause of all and above all. 

Section I. 
We pray to enter within the super-bright gloom, 
and through not seeing and not knowing, to see and 
to know that the not to see nor to know is itself 
the above sight and knowledge. For this is veri- 
tably to see and to know and to celebrate super- 
essentially the Superessential, through the abstraction 
of all existing things, just as those who make a life- 
like statue, by extracting all the encumbrances which 
have been placed upon the clear view of the con- 
cealed, and by bringing to light, by the mere cutting 
away*, the genuine beauty concealed in it. And, it is 
necessary, as I think, to celebrate the abstractions in 
an opposite way to the definitions. For, we used to 
place these latter by beginning from the foremost and 
descending through the middle to the lowest, but, in 
this case, by making the ascents from the lowest to 
the highest, we abstract everything, in order that, 
without veil, we may know that Agnosia, which is 
enshrouded under all the known, in all things that 
be, and may see that superessential gloom, which is 
hidden by all the light in existing things. 

■ i.e. the abstraction. 


Diony sius the Areopagiie, 


What are the affirmative expressions respecting God, 

and what the negative. 

Section I. 
In the Theological Outlines, then, we celebrated the 
principal affirmative expressions respecting God- 
how the Divine and good Nature is spoken of as 
One— how as Threefold— what is that within it which 
is spoken of as Paternity and Sonship— what the 
Divine name of "the Spirit" is meant to signify- 
how from the immaterial and indivisible Good the 
Lights dwelling in the heart of Goodness sprang forth, 
and remained, in their branching forth, without de- 
parting from the coeternal abiding in Himself and 
in Themselves and in each other —how the super- 
essential Jesus takes substance in veritable human 
nature -and whatever other things, made known by 
the Oracles, are celebrated throughout the Theological 
Outlines; and in the treatise concerning Divine 
Names, how He is named Good— how Being— how 
Life and Wisdom and Power— and whatever else 
belongs to the nomenclature of God. Further, in the 
~ Symbolical Theology, what are the Names transferred 
from objects of sense to things Divine?— what are 
the Divine forms?— what the Divine appearances, 
and parts and organs?— what the Divine places and 
ornaments?— what the angers?— what the griefs?— 
and the Divine wrath?— what the carousals, and the 
ensuing sicknesses ?— what the oaths,— and what the 

on Mystic Theology. 135 

curses? — what the sleepings, and what the awak- 
ings ? — and all the other Divinely formed representa- 
tions, which belong to the description of God, 
through symbols. And I imagine that you have 
comprehended, how the lowest are expressed in some- 
what more words than the first For, it was necessary 
that the Theological Outlines, and the unfolding of the 
Divine Names should be expressed in fewer words 
than the Symbolic Theology ; since, in proportion as 
we ascend to the higher, in such a degree the ex- 
pressions are circumscribed by the contemplations of 
the things intelligible. As even now, when entering 
into the gloom which is above mind, we shall find, not 
a little speaking, but a complete absence of speech, 
and absence of conception. In the other case, the 
discourse, in descending from the above to the lowest, 
is widened according to the descent, to a propor- 
tionate extent; but now, in ascending from below to 
that which is above, in proportion to the ascent, it 
is contracted, and after a complete ascent, it will 
become wholly voiceless, and will be wholly united 
to the unutterable. But, for what reason in short, 
you say, having attributed the Divine attributes from 
the foremost, do we begin the Divine abstraction 
from things lowest? Because it is necessary that 
they who place attributes on that which is above 
every attribute, should place the attributive affirma- 
tion from that which is more cognate to it ; but that 
they who abstract, with regard to that which is above 
every abstraction, should make the abstraction from 
things which are further removed from it. Are not 


Dionysius the Areopagite, 

life and goodness more (cognate) than air and stone? 
and He is not given to debauch and to wrath, more 
(removed) than He is not expressed nor conceived. 


That the pre-eminent Cause of every object of sensible 
perception is none of the objects of sensible perception. 
Section I. 
We say then that the Cause of all, which is above 
all, is neither without being, nor without life— nor with- 
out reason, nor without mind, nor is a body — nor has 
shape— nor form— nor quality, or quantity, or bulk— 
nor is in a place — nor is seen — nor has sensible con- 
tact—nor perceives, nor is perceived, by the senses — 
nor has disorder and confusion, as being vexed by 
earthly passions,— nor is powerless, as being subject 
to casualties of sense,— nor is in need of light;— 
neither is It, nor has It, change, or decay, or divi- 
sion, or deprivation, or flux,— or any other of the 
objects of sense. 


That the pre-eminent Cause of every object of intelligible 
perception is no fie of the objects of intelligible percep- 

On the other hand, ascending, we say, that It 
is neither soul, nor mind, nor has imagination, or 
opinion, or reason, or conception; neither is ex- 

on Mystic Theology. 137 

pressed, nor conceived ; neither is number, nor order, 
nor greatness, nor littleness; nor equality, nor in- 
equality ; nor similarity, nor dissimilarity ; neither is 
standing, nor moving; nor at rest; neither has 
power, nor is power, nor light ; neither lives, nor is 
life ; neither is essence nor eternity, nor time ; nei- 
ther is Its touch intelligible, neither is It science, nor 
truth ; nor kingdom, nor wisdom ; neither one, nor 
oneness ; neither Deity, nor Goodness ; nor is It Spirit 
according to our understanding; nor Sonship, nor 
Paternity ; nor any other thing of those known to us, 
or to any other existing being ; neither is It any of 
non-existing nor of existing things, nor do things 
existing know It, as It is; nor does It know existing 
things, qua existing ; neither is there expression of It, 
nor name, nor knowledge ; neither is It darkness, nor 
light; nor error, nor truth; neither is there any 
definition at all of It, nor any abstraction. But when 
making the predications and abstractions of things 
after It, we neither predicate, nor abstract from It ; 
since the all-perfect and uniform Cause of all is both 
above every definition and the pre-eminence of Him, 
Who is absolutely freed from all, and beyond the 
whole, is also above every abstraction. 




These Letters attest the existence of the writings, 
and the wisdom spoken among the perfect, in the 
Apostolic Age. — To Gaius, who is commemorated 
by St. John and St. Paul, we owe the explanation 
of Agnosia, and valued teaching on the Personality 
of our Lord; to Dorotheus we are indebted for 
a fuller explanation of the Divine Gloom ; to Sosi- 
pater, twice mentioned in the Acts and Romans, 
we owe the wisest letter ever penned for the in- 
struction of the Christian Apologist and Missionary. 
The Letter to Polycarp touches on those mysterious 
signs in the heavens, by which Almighty God shewed 
His universal power. Dionysius shews his reverence 
for God's holy word, by never seeking to explain 
away, or to substitute what seems a less miracle for 
a greater. The trifold Mithra commemorated amongst 
the Babylonians shews that Hezekiah's sign was not 
merely visible and observed in Judea. The King, 
as High Priest of his people, was already robed for 
evening prayer, when he observed the sun gone 
back ; and one day became almost three, i.e. thirty- 
two hours instead of thirty-six. Dionysius describes 
the darkness at the time of the Crucifixion, as it 


appeared in Egypt, and is recorded by Phlegon. 
We do not explain and interpret the facts recorded 
in the Gospel, by denying them, or by treating the 
same testimony outside the Gospel as superstitious. 

To Demophilus, we owe a knowledge of Church- 
law and order, which teaches the Christian duty 
of being " sent," and which should teach clergy to 
obey their Bishop, and not merely the Act of uni- 
formity. To Titus, we owe the preservation of the 
sum of the Symbolic Theology. From the letter to 
St. John in Patmos, we learn the love between 
St. John and Dionysius, and that St. John was then 
called the "Sun of the Gospel." From the letter 
to Apollophanes, we know that the prayers of Diony- 
sius for the conversion of his friend did not fall 
to the ground. Apollophanes was tutor to Polemon, 
who again was tutor to Aristides, who presented 
his "Apology" to the Emperor Hadrian. The 
conversion of Statonice, the wife of Apollophanes, 
was the cause of St. Paul's being cast into chains 
at Philippi, where the messengers from Corinth found 
him, through whom he sent the Epistle recently 
brought to light a . 

* See "Correspondence of St. Paul," Carriere et Berger, 
p. 20. Fishbacher, Paris. 

Ciratmcision, 1897. 



To Gains Therapeutes. 
Darkness becomes invisible by light, and specially 
by much light. Varied knowledge (al yvdxreis), and 
especially much varied knowledge, makes the Ag- 
nosia* to vanish. Take this in a superlative, but 
not in a defective sense, and reply with superla- 
tive truth, that the Agnosia, respecting God, escapes 
those who possess existing light, and knowledge 
of things being; and His pre-eminent darkness is 
both concealed by every light, and is hidden from 
every knowledge. And, if any one, having seen 
God, understood what he saw, he did not see Him, 
but some of His creatures that are existing and 
known. But He Himself, highly established above 
mind, and above essence, by the very fact of His 
being wholly unknown, and not being, both is super- 
essentially, and is known above mind. And the 
all-perfect Agnosia, in its superior sense, is a know- 
ledge of Him, Who is above all known things. 


To the same Gains Therapeutes. 
How is He, Who is beyond all b , both above source 
of Divinity and above source of Good ? Provided you 
* C. I. § i. b C. II. § 6. 

142 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

understand Deity and Goodness, as the very Actuality 
of the Good-making and God-making gift, and the 
inimitable imitation of the super-divine and super- 
good (gift), by aid of which we are deified and 
made good. For, moreover, if this becomes source 
of the deification and making good of those who 
are being deified and made good, He, — Who is super- 
source of every source, even of the so-called Deity 
and Goodness, seeing He is beyond source of Divinity 
and source of Goodness, in so far as He is in- 
imitable, and not to be retained— excels the imita- 
tions and retentions, and the things which are 
imitated and those participating. 

To the same Gains. 
" Sudden " is that which, contrary to expectation, 
and out of the, as yet, unmanifest, is brought into the 
manifest. But with regard to Christ's love of man, 
I think that the Word of God suggests even this, 
that the Superessential proceeded forth out of the 
hidden, into the manifestation amongst us, by having 
taken substance as man. But, He is hidden, even 
after the manifestation, or to speak more divinely, 
even in the manifestation, for in truth this of Jesus 
has been kept hidden, and the mystery with respect 
to Him has been reached by no word nor mind, 
but even when spoken, remains unsaid, and when 
conceived unknown. 

Letters of Dionysins the Areopagite. 143 


To the same Gains Therapeutes. 

How, you ask, is Jesus, Who is beyond all, ranked 
essentially with all men ? For, not as Author of 
men is He here called man, but as being in absolute 
whole essence truly man. But we do not define 
the Lord Jesus, humanly, for He is not man only, 
(neither superessential nor man only), but truly man, 
He Who is pre-eminently a lover of man, the Super- 
essential, taking substance, above men and after 
men, from the substance of men. And it is nothing 
less, the ever Superessential, super-full of super- 
essentiality y disregards the excess d of this, and having 
come truly into substance, took substance above 
substance, and above man works things of man. 
And a virgin supernaturally conceiving, and un- 
stable water, holding up weight of material and 
earthly feet, and not giving way, but, by a super- 
natural power standing together so as not to be 
divided, demonstrate this. Why should any one 
go through the rest, which are very many ? Through 
which, he who looks with a divine vision, will know 
beyond mind, even the things affirmed respecting 
the love towards man, of (the Lord) Jesus, — things 
which possess a force of superlative negation. For, 
even, to speak summarily, He was not man, not as 
not being man, but as being from men was beyond 
men, and was above man, having truly been born 
man, and for the rest, not having done things Divine 

c C. II. § 6. 

144 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

as God, nor things human as man, but exercising 
for us a certain new God-incarnate energy of God 
having become man. 

To Dorotheus, Leitourgos. 
The Divine gloom is the unapproachable light 
in which God is said to dwell e . And in this gloom, 
invisible f indeed, on account of the surpassing bright- 
ness, and unapproachable on account of the excess 
of the superessential stream of light, enters every one 
deemed worthy to know and to see God, by the very 
fact of neither seeing nor knowing, really entering 
in Him, Who is above vision and knowledge, knowing 
this very thing, that He is after all the object of 
sensible and intelligent perception, and saying in the 
words of the Prophet, " Thy knowledge was regarded 
as wonderful by me ; It was confirmed ; I can by no 
means attain unto it s j " even as the Divine Paul is 
said to have known Almighty God, by having known 
Him as being above all conception and knowledge. 
Wherefore also, he says, " His ways are past finding 
out h and His Judgements inscrutable," and His gifts 
" indescribable l ," and that His peace surpasses every 
mind j , as having found Him Who is above all, 
and having known this which is above conception, 
that, by being Cause of all, He is beyond all. 

e i Tim. vi. 6. £ lb. i. 17. * Ps. cxxxix. 6. 

h Rom. xi. 33. l 2 Cor. ix. 15. * Phil. iv. 7. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 145 


To Sopatros^ — Priest. 

Do not imagine this a victory, holy Sopatros, to 
have denounced l a devotion, or an opinion, which ap- 
parently is not good. For neither — even if you should 
have convicted it accurately — are the (teachings) of 
Sopatros consequently good. For it is possible, both 
that you and others, whilst occupied in many things 
that are false and apparent, should overlook the true, 
which is One and hidden. For neither, if anything 
is not red, is it therefore white, nor if something 
is not a horse, is it necessarily a man. But thus will 
you do, if you follow my advice, you will cease in- 
deed to speak against others, but will so speak on 
behalf of truth, that every thing said is altogether 


Section I. 

To Poly carp — Hierarch. 

I, at any rate, am not conscious, when speaking 

in reply to Cxreeks or others, of fancying to assist 

good men, in case they should be able to know and 

speak the very truth, as it really is in itself. For, when 

this is correctly demonstrated in its essential nature, 

according to a law of truth, and has been established 

without flaw, every thing which is otherwise, and 

simulates the truth, will be convicted of being other 

k Acts xx. 4; Rom. xvi. 21. 1 Tit. iii. 9. 


146 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

than the reality, and dissimilar, and that which is 
seeming rather than real. It is superfluous then, 
that the expounder of truth should contend with 
these or those™. For each affirms himself to have 
the royal coin, and perchance has some deceptive 
image of a certain portion of the true. And, if you 
refute this, first the one, and then the other, will 
contend concerning the same. But, when the true 
statement itself has been correctly laid down, and 
has remained unrefuted by all the rest, every thing 
which is not so in every respect is cast down of 
itself, by the impregnable stability of the really true. 
Having then as I think well understood this, I have 
not been over zealous to speak in reply to Greeks or 
to others ; but it is sufficient for roe (and may God 
grant this), first to know about truth, then, having 
known, to speak as it is fitting to speak. 

Section II. 
But you say, the Sophist Apollophanes rails at me, 
and calls me parricide, as using, not piously, the 
writings of Greeks against the Greeks. Yet, in reply 
to him, it were more true for us to say, that Greeks 
use, not piously, things Divine against things Divine, 
attempting through the wisdom of Almighty God to 
eject the Divine Worship. And I am not speaking of 
the opinion of the multitude, who cling tenaciously 
to the writings of the poets, with earthly and im- 
passioned proclivities, and worship the creature 11 
rather than the Creator; but even Apollophanes 
■ Greeks or others. n I Cor. ii. 7. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 147 

himself uses not piously things Divine against things 
Divine ; for by the knowledge of things created, well 
called Philosophy by him, and by the divine Paul 
named Wisdom of God, the true philosophers ought 
to have been elevated to the Cause of things created 
and of the knowledge of them. And in order that 
he may not improperly impute to me the opinion 
of others, or that of himself, Apollophanes, being 
a wise man, ought to recognise that nothing could 
otherwise be removed from its heavenly course and 
movement, if it had not the Sustainer and Cause of 
its being moving it thereto, who forms all things, 
and " transforms them ° " according to the sacred text. 
How then does he not worship Him, known to us 
even from this, and verily being God of the whole, 
admiring Him for His all causative and super-in- 
expressible power, when sunP and moon, together 
with the universe, by a power and stability most 
supernatural, were fixed by them to entire immobility, 
and, for a measure of a whole day, all the constellations 
stood in the same places ; or (which is greater than 
even this), if when the whole and the greater and 
embracing were thus carried along, those embraced 
did not follow in their course ; and when a certain 
other dayi was almost tripled in duration, even in 
twenty whole hours, either the universe retraced 
contrary routes for so long a time, and (was) 

Dan. ii. 21. See note, p. 184. 

v Joshua x. 12 — 14 ; Eccl. xlvi. 4 ; Isaiah xxviii. 21. 

q Of twelve hours : 2 Kings xx. 9 — 11 ; Isaiah xxxviii. 8. 

148 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

turned back by the thus very most supernatural 
backward revolutions; or the sun, in its own 
course, having contracted its five-fold motion in 
ten hours, retrogressively again retraced it in the 
other ten hours, by traversing a sort of new route. 
This thing indeed naturally astounded even Baby- 
lonians r , and, without battle, brought them into 
subjection to Hezekiah, as though he were a some- 
body equal to God, and superior to ordinary men. 
And, by no means do I allege the great works in 
Egypt 8 , or certain other Divine portents, which took 
place elsewhere, but the well-known and celestial 
ones, which were renowned in every place and by all 
persons. But Apollophanes is ever saying that these 
things are not true. At any rate then, this is re- 
ported by the Persian sacerdotal legends, and to 
this day, Magi celebrate the memorials of the three- 
fold Mithrus K But let him disbelieve these things, 
by reason of his ignorance or his inexperience. Say 
to him, however, "What do you affirm concerning 
the eclipse, which took place at the time of the 
saving Cross*?" For both of us at that time, at 
Heliopolis, being present, and standing together, 
saw the moon approaching the sun, to our surprise 
(for it was not appointed time for conjunction); 
and again, from the ninth hour to the evening, 
supernaturally placed back again into a line opposite 

r Isaiah xxxix. I ; 2 Kings xx. 12 ; 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. 
8 Ex. vii. 14. * See Dulac. u Mark xv. 33; Luke 

xxiii. 44. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 149 

the sun. And remind him also of something further. 
For he knows that we saw, to our surprise, the con- 
tact itself beginning from the east, and going towards 
the edge of the sun's disc, then receding back, and 
again, both the contact and the re-clearing v , not taking 
place from the same point, but from that diametri- 
cally opposite. So great are the supernatural things 
of that appointed time, and possible to Christ alone, 
the Cause of all, Who worketh great things and 
marvellous, of which there is not number. 

Section III. 
These things say, if occasion serves, and if possi- 
ble, O Apollophanes, refute them, and to- me, who 
was then both present with thee, and saw and 
judged and wondered with thee at them all. And 
in truth Apollophanes begins prophesying at that 
time, I know not whence, and to me he said, 
as if conjecturing the things taking place, " these 
things, O excellent Dionysius, are requitals of Divine 
deeds." Let so much be said by us by letter; but 
you are capable, both to supply the deficiency, and 
to bring eventually to God that distinguished man, 
who is wise in many things, and who perhaps will 
not disdain to meekly learn the truth, which is above 
wisdom, of our religion. 

* The contact or adumbration refers to the moon, the 
re-clearing to the sun. See notes on this letter in Ant. Ed. 
and Schema, p. 258, vol. 2. 

1 5 o Litters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 


To Demophilus, Therapeutes. 

About minding one's own business, and kindness. 
Section I. 

The histories of the Hebrews say, O noble De- 
mophilus, that even that holy, distinguished Moses 
was deemed worthy of the Divine manifestation on 
account of his great meekness w . And, if at any 
time they describe him as being excluded from the 
vision x of God, they do not cast him out from God 
for his meekness. But they say that when speaking 
very rashly, and opposing the Divine Counsels, 
Jehovah was angry with him with wrath. But when 
they make him proclaimed by his God-discerned 
deserts, he is proclaimed, from his pre-eminent 
imitation of the Good. For he was very meek, 
and on this account is called "Servant of God," 
and deemed more fit for vision of God than all 
Prophets. Now, when certain envious y people were 
contending with him and Aaron, about the High 
Priesthood and government of the tribes, he was 
superior to all love of honour, and love of rule, 
and referred the presidency over the people to the 
Divine judgment. And, when they even rose up 
against him, and reproaching him concerning the 
precedency, were threatening him, and were already 
almost upon him, the meek man invoked the Good 
for preservation, but very suitably asserted that 

• Num. xii. 3-8. x Ex. iv. 14. y Num. xvi. i-u. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 1 5 1 

he would be guiltless of all evils to the governed. 
For he knew that it is necessary, that the familiar 
with God the Good should be moulded, as far as 
is attainable, to that which is specially most like 
the Good, and should be conscious within himself 
of the performance of deeds of good friendship. 
And what made David z , the father of God, a friend 
of God ? Even for being good and generous towards 
enemies a . The Super-Good, and the Friend of Good 
sa y S — « 1 have found a man after mine own heart." 
Further also, a generous injunction was given, to 
care for even one's enemy's beasts of burden b . And 
Job c was pronounced just, as being free from injury. 
And Joseph d did not take revenge upon the brethren 
who had plotted against him ; and Abel, at once, 
and without suspicion, accompanied the fratricide. 
And the Word of God proclaims all the good as 
not devising evil things e , not doing them f , but 
neither being changed from the good, by the base- 
ness of others s, but, on the contrary, after the ex- 
ample of God h , as doing good to, and throwing their 
shield over the evil; and generously calling them 
to their own abundant goodness, and to their own 
similitude. But let us ascend higher, not proclaiming 
the gentleness of holy men, nor kindness of philan- 
thropic angels, who take compassion upon nations, 
and invoke good 1 on their behalf, and punish the 

z Matt. i. I — 16. a I Sam. xxiv. 7, xiii. 14. b Ex. xxiii. 4. 

c Job i. 8. d Gen. 1. 21. e I Cor. xiii. 5. 

i Ps. xv. 3. b Rom. xii. 21. h Matt. v. 45. 

1 Zech. i. 12. 

1 5 2 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

destructive and devastating mobs, and, whilst being 
grieved over calamities, yet rejoice over the safety 
of those who are being called back to things good k ; 
nor whatever else the Word of God teaches concern- 
ing the beneficent angels ! ; but, whilst in silence wel- 
coming the beneficent rays of the really good and 
super-good Christ, by them let us be lighted on our 
path, to His Divine works of Goodness. For as- 
suredly is it not of a Goodness inexpressible and 
beyond conception, that He makes all things existing 
to be, and brought all things themselves to being, 
and wishes all things ever to become near to Himself, 
and participants of Himself, according to the apti- 
tude of each ? And why ? Because He clings lovingly 
to those who even depart from Him, and strives 01 and 
beseeches not to be disowned by those beloved who 
are themselves coy; and He bears with those who 
heedlessly reproach Him n , and Himself makes 
excuse for them, and further promises to serve 
them, and runs towards and meets even those 
who hold themselves aloof, immediately that they 
approach j and when His entire self has embraced 
their entire selves, He kisses them, and does not 
reproach them for former things, but rejoices over 
the present, and holds a feast, and calls together 
the friends, that is to say, the good, in order that 
the household may be altogether rejoicing. (But, 
Demophilus, of all persons in the world, is at enmity 

k Luke xv. 7. ! Ps. xci. II. m Matt. vi. 19. 

n Luke xxiii. 34. ° lb. xv. 20. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 153 

with, and very justly rebukes, and teaches beautiful 
things to, good men, and rejoices.) " For how," He 
says, " ought not the good to rejoice over safety of 
the lost, and over life of those who are dead." And, 
as a matter of course, He raises upon His shoulders 
that which with difficulty has been turned from error, 
and summons the good angels to rejoicing, and 
is generous to the unthankful, and makes His sun 
to rise upon evil and good, and presents His very 
soul p as an offering on behalf of those who are 
fleeing from Him. 

But thou, as thy letters testify, I do not know how, 
being in thy senses, hast spurned one fallen down 
before the priest, who, as thou sayest, was unholy and 
a sinner. Then this one entreated and confessed 
that he has come for healing of evil deeds, but thou 
didst not shiver, but even insolently didst cover with 
abuse the good priest, for shewing compassion to 
a penitent, and justifying the unholy. And at last, 
thou saidst to the priest, " Go out with thy like " ; 
and didst burst, contrary to permission, into the 
sanctuary, and defiledst the Holy of holies, and writest 
to us, that " I have providentially preserved the things 
sacred, which were about to be profaned, and am 
still keeping them undented." 

Now, then, hear our view. It is not lawful that 
a priest should be corrected by the Leitourgoi, who 
are above thee, or by the Therapeutae, who are of the 
same rank with thee ; even though he should seem to 

p 1 John 10, 11. 

154 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

act irreverently towards things Divine, and though he 
should be convicted of having done some other thing 
forbidden. For, if want of order, and want of regu- 
lation, is a departure from the most Divine insti- 
tutions and decrees, it is not reasonable that the 
divinely transmitted order should be changed on 
God's behalf. For Almighty God is not divided 
against Himself, for, "how then shall His kingdom 
stand*?" And if the judgment is of God, as the 
Oracles affirm r , and the priests are angels and inter- 
preters, after the hierarchs, of the Divine judgments, 
learn from them through whom thou wast deemed 
worthy to be a Therapeutes, through the intermediate 
Leitourgoi, when opportunity serves, the things Divine 
suitable for thyself 8 . And do not the Divine Symbols 
proclaim this, for is not the Holy of holies altogether 
simply separated from all, and the order of the con- 
secrators is in closer proximity to it than the rank of 
the priests, and following these, that of the Leitourgoi. 
But the gates of the sanctuary are bounded by the 
appointed Therapeutae, within which they are both 
ordained, and around which they stand, not to 
guard them, but for order, and teaching of themselves 
that they are nearer the people than the priesthood. 
Whence the holy regulation of the priests orders 
them to participate in things Divine, enjoining the 
impartation of these to others, that is to say, the 
more inward. For even those who always stand 

* Matt. xii. 26. r Is. xxx. 18. 

■ Ec. Hier. c. 6. part 2. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 155 

around the Divine Altar, for a symbolical purpose, see 
and hear things Divine revealed to themselves in all 
clearness ; and advancing generously to things out- 
side the Divine Veils, they shew, to the subject Thera- 
peutae, and to the holy people, and to the orders 
under purification, according to their meetness, things 
holy which had been beautifully guarded without pol- 
lution, until thou didst tyrannically burst into them, 
and compelledst the Holy of holies, against its will, to 
be strutted over by thee, and thou sayest, that thou 
holdest and guardest the sacred things, although thou 
neither hast known, nor heard,, nor possessest any of 
the things belonging to the priests ; as neither hast 
thou known, the truth of the Oracles, whilst cavilling 
about them each day to subversion of the hearers. 
And even if some civil Governor undertook what was 
not commanded him by a King, justly would any one 
of the subordinates standing by be punished who 
dared to criticise the Governor, when justifying, or 
condemning any one; (for I do not go so far as to say 
to vituperate), and at the same time thought to cast 
him from his government ; but thou, man, art thus rash 
in what concerns the affairs of the meek and good, 
and his hierarchical jurisdiction. We are bound to 
say these things, when any one undertakes what is 
above his rank y and at the same time thinks that he 
acts properly.. For this is not within the powers of 
any one. For. what was O^ias 4 doing out of place, 
when offering incense to Almighty God ? and what 
Saul u in sacrificing ? 

2 Chron. xxvi. 16—19. u l Sam « xiii - l 9* 

156 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

Yea, further, what were those domineering de- 
mons x , who were truly proclaiming the Lord Jesus 
God ? But every one who meddles with other people's 
business, is outlawed by the Word of God ; and each 
one shall be in the rank of his own service, and alone 
the High Priest * shall enter into the Holy of holies, 
and once only throughout the year*, and this in the 
full legal hierarchical purification a . And the priests h 
encompass the holy things, and the Levites must 
not touch the holy things, lest they die. And Je- 
hovah was angry with wrath at the rashness of Ozias, 
and Mariam c becomes leprous, because she had 
presumed to lay down laws for the lawgiver. And 
the demons fastened on the sons of Sceva, and He 
says, " I did not send them, yet they ran, and I spake 
not to them yt they prophesied d ." "And the 
profane e who sacrifices to me a calf, (is) as he who 
slays a dog," and to speak briefly, the all-perfect 
justice of Almighty God does not tolerate the dis- 
regarded of law, but whilst they are saying " in Thy f 
Name, we ourselves did many wonderful works," He 
retorts, " And I know you not j go from Me all ye 
workers of lawlessness." So that it is not per- 
missible, as the holy Oracles say, even to pursue 
things that are just, when not according to order «, 
but each must keep to himself h , and not meditate 
things too high and too deep for him 1 , but con- 

* Mark iii. II. * Lev. xyi, 2. * Ex. xxx. 10. 
■ lb. xix. 21. b Num. iv. 15. c lb. xii. 10. 

d Jen xxiii. 21. e Is. xlvi. 3. f Matt. vii. 23. 

* Deut. xvi. 20. b 1 Tim. iv. 16. * Rom. xii. 3—6. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areofiagite. 157 

template alone things prescribed for him according 
to order. 

Section II. 

"What then," thou sayest, "is it not necessary to 
correct the priests who are acting irreverently, or con- 
victed of something else out of place, but to those 
only, who glory in law, shall it be permitted to dis- 
honour Almighty God k , through the transgression of 
the Law ? " And how are the priests interpreters x of 
Almighty God ? For, how do they announce to the 
people the Divine virtues, who do not know the 
power of them ? or how do they, who are in dark- 
ness m , communicate light? Further, how do they 
impart the Divine Spirit, who, by habit and truth do 
not believe whether there is a Holy Spirit n ? Now I 
will give thee an answer to these things. For truly my 
Demophilus is not an enemy,, nor will I tolerate that 
thou shouldst be overreached by Satan. 

For each rank of those about God, is more god- 
like than that which stands further away. And those 
which are somewhat nearer to the true light, are at 
once more luminous, and more illuminating ; and do 
not understand the nearness topically, but according 
to God-receptive aptitude. If, then, the order of the 
priests is the illuminating, entirely has he fallen from 
the priestly rank and power, who does not illuminate, 
or perhaps rather (he becomes) the unilluminated. 

k Rom. ii. 23. x Mai. ii. 7. m Eph. iv. 18. 

n Acts xix. 2. 

1 5 8 'Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

And he seems, to me at least, rash who, being such, 
undertakes the priestly functions, and has no fear, 
and does not blush, when performing things Divine, 
contrary to propriety, and fancying that God does 
not know the very things of which he is conscious in 
himself, and thinks to mislead Him Who is falsely 
called by him Father, and presumes to repeat his 
cursed blasphemies (for I would not say prayers) over 
the Divine symbols, after the example of Christ. 
This one is not a priest— No !— but devilish— crafty 
—a deceiver of himself— and a wolf to the people of 
God, clothed in sheep's clothing. 

Section III. 

But, it is not to Demophilus that it is permitted 

to put these things straight. For, if the Word of 

God commands to pursue just things justly (but 

to pursue just things is, when any one wishes to 

distribute to each one things that are meet), this 

must be pursued by all justly, not beyond their own 

meetness or rankP; since even to angels it is just 

that things meet be assigned and apportioned, but not 

from us, O Demophilus, but through them to us, of 

God, and to them through the angels who are still 

more pre-eminent. And to speak shortly, amongst 

all existing things their due is assigned through the 

first to the second, by the well-ordered and most 

just forethought of all. Let those, then, who have 

been ordered by God to superintend others, dis- 

o Deut. xvi. 20. p 2 Cor - xiii « Ia 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 159 

tribute after themselves their due to their in- 
feriors. But, let Demophilus apportion their due 
to reason and anger and passion ; and let him not 
maltreat the regulation of himself, but let the superior 
reason bear rule over things inferior. For, if one 
were to see, in the market-place, a servant abusing 
a master, and a younger man, an elder ; or also a son, 
a father; and in addition attacking and inflicting 
wounds, we should seem even to fail in reverence if 
we did not run and succour the superior, even though 
perhaps they were first guilty of injustice ; how then 
shall we not blush, when we see reason maltreated by 
anger and passion, and cast out of the sovereignty 
given by God ; and when we raise in our own selves 
an irreverent and unjust disorder, and insurrection 
and confusion? Naturally, our blessed Law-giver 
from God does not deem right that one should 
preside over the Chufch of God, who has not .already 
well presided over his own house q . For, he who has 
governed himself will also govern another ; and who, 
another, will also govern a house ; and who, a house, 
also a city ; and who, a city, also a nation. And 
to speak briefly as the Oracles affirm, "he who is 
faithful in little, is faithful also in much," and "he 
who is unfaithful in little, is unfaithful also in 

Section IV. 

Thyself, then, assign their due limit to passion and 
anger and reason. And to thyself, let the divine 

* 1 Tim. iii. 5. 

160 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

Leitourgoi assign the due limit, and to these, the 
priests, and to the priests, hierarchs, and to the 
hierarchs, the Apostles and the successors of the 
Apostles. And if, perchance, any, even among these, 
should have failed in what is becoming, he shall 
be put right by the holy men of the same rank; 
and rank shall not be turned against rank, but 
each shall be in his own rank, and in his own 
service. So much for thee, from us, on behalf of 
knowing and doing one's own business. But, con- 
cerning the inhuman treatment towards that man, 
whom thou callest " irreverent and sinner," I know 
not how I shall bewail the scandal of my beloved. 
For, of whom dost thou suppose thou wast or- 
dained Therapeutes by us? For if it were not of 
the Good, it is necessary that thou shouldst be 
altogether alien from Him and from us, and from 
our whole religion, and it is time for thee both to 
seek a God, and other priests, and amongst them 
to become brutal rather than perfected, and to be 
a cruel minister of thine own fierceness. For, 
have we ourselves, forsooth, been perfected to the 
altogether Good, and have no need of the divine 
compassion for ourselves r , or do we commit the 
double sin 8 , as the Oracles say, after the example 
of the unholy, not knowing in what we offend, 
but even justifying ourselves and supposing we see, 
whilst really not seeing 1 ? Heaven was startled at 
this, and I shivered, and I distrust myself. And 

r Luke xvi. 10. » Jer. ii. 13—35. * Rom. i. 27. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 161 

unless I had met with thy letters (as know well 
I would I had not), they would not have persuaded 
me if indeed any other had thought good to persuade 
me concerning thee, that Demophilus supposes, that 
Almighty God, Who is good to all, is not also compas- 
sionate towards men, and that he himself has no need 
of the Merciful or the Saviour u ; yea further, he de- 
poses those priests who are deemed worthy, through 
clemency, to bear the ignorances x of the people, and 
who well know, that they also are compassed with 
infirmity y. But, the supremely Divine Priest pur- 
sued a different (course), and that as the Oracles 
say, from being separate 2 of sinners, and makes 
the most gentle tending of the sheep a a proof of 
the love towards Himself; and He stigmatizes as 
wicked b , him who did not forgive his fellow-servant 
the debt, nor impart a portion of that manifold 
goodness, graciously given to himself ; and He con- 
demns him to enjoy his own deserts, which both 
myself and Demophilus must take care to avoid. 
For, even for those who were treating Him impiously, 
at the very time of His suffering, He invokes re- 
mission from the Father ; and He rebukes even the 
disciples, because without mercy they thought it right 
to convict of impiety the Samaritans who drove Him 
away. This, indeed, is the thousand times repeated 
theme of thy impudent letter (for thou repeatest the 
same from beginning to end), that thou hast avenged, 

" Heb. vii. 27. * lb. ix. 7. r lb. vii. 28. 

z lb. 26. a John xxi. 15 — 17. b Matt, xviii. 32. 

c Luke xviii. 34. 


162 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

not thyself, but Almighty God. Tell me (<}ost thou 
avenge) the Good by means of evil ? 
Section V. 
Avaunt! We have not a High Priest, "Who can- 
not be touched with our infirmities, but is both 
without sin and merciful." "He shall not strive 
nor cry, and is Himself meek, and Himself pro- 
pitiatory for our sins ; so that we will not approve 
your unenviable attacks, not if you should allege 
a thousand times your Phineas and your Elias. For, 
when the Lord Jesus heard these things, He was 
displeased with the disciples, who at that time 
lacked the meek and good spirit. For, even our 
most divine preceptor d teaches in meekness those 
who opposed themselves to the teaching of Almighty 
God. For, we must teach, not avenge ourselves 
upon, the ignorant, as we do not punish the blind, 
but rather lead them by the hand. But thou, after 
striking him on the cheek, rushest upon that man, 
who is beginning to rise to the truth, and when he 
is approaching with much modesty, thou insolently 
kickest him away (certainly, this is enough to make 
one shudder), whom the Lord Christ, as being good, 
seeks, when wandering upon the mountains, and calls 
to Him, when fleeing from Him, and when, with 
difficulty, found, places upon His shoulders. Do 
not, I pray, do not let us thus injuriously counsel 
for ourselves, nor drive the sword e against ourselves. 
For they, who undertake to injure f any one, or on 

i 2 Tim. ii. 24. • Matt. xxvi. 51-2. f lb. vi. 28. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 163 

the contrary to do them good, do not always effect 
what they wish, but for themselves, when they have 
brought into their house s vice or virtue, will be filled 
either with Divine virtues, or ungovernable passions. 
And these indeed, as followers and companions of 
good angels h , both here and there, with all peace and 
freedom from all evil, will inherit the most blessed 
inheritances for the ever-continuing age, and will 
be ever with God, the greatest of all blessings 1 ; 
but, the other will fall both from the divine and 
their own peace, and here, and after death, will 
be companions with cruel demons k . For which 
reason, we have an earnest desire to become com- 
panions of God 1 , the Good, and to be ever with the 
Lord, and not to be separated, along with the evil, 
from the most Just One, whilst undergoing that which 
is due from ourselves, which I fear most of all, and 
pray to have no share in anything evil. And, with 
your permission, I will mention a divine vision of 
a certain holy man, and do not laugh, for I am 
speaking true. 

Section VI. 
When I was once in Crete, the holy Carpus m 
entertained me, — a man, of all others, most fitted, 
on account of great purity of mind, for Divine Vision. 
Now, he never undertook the holy celebrations of 
the Mysteries, unless a propitious vision were first 
manifested to him during his preparatory devout 

s Eph. ii. 20. h Ps. xci. II. * lb. lxxiii. 28. 

k Jer. vi. 14. x 1 Thess. iv. 13. m 2 Tim. iv. 13. 

1 64 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

prayers. He said then, when some one of the 
unbelievers had at one time grieved him (and his 
grief was, that he had led astray to ungodliness 
a certain member of the Church, whilst the days of 
rejoicing were still being celebrated for him) ; that 
he ought compassionately to have prayed on behalf 
of both, and taking God, the Saviour, as his fellow- 
helper, to convert the one, and to overcome the 
other by goodness , and not to have ceased warning 
them so long as he lived until this day; and thus 
to lead them to the knowledge of God, so that the 
things disputed by them might be clearly determined, 
and those, who were irrationally bold, might be com- 
pelled to be wiser by a judgment according to law. 
Now, as he had never before experienced this, I do 
not know how he then went to bed with such a 
surfeit of ill-will and bitterness. In this evil con- 
dition he went to sleep, for it was evening, and 
at midnight (for he was accustomed at that appointed 
hour to rise, of his own accord, for the Divine 
melodies) he arose, not having enjoyed, undis- 
turbed, his slumbers, which were many and con- 
tinually broken ; and, when he stood collected for 
the Divine Converse, he was guiltily vexed and 
displeased, saying, that it was not just that godless 
men, who pervert the straight ways of the Lord, 
should live. And, whilst saying this, he besought 
Almighty God, by some stroke of lightning, sud- 
denly, without mercy, to cut short the lives of 
them both. But, whilst saying this, he declared, 
u Rom. xi. 21. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 165 

that he seemed to see suddenly the house in which 
he stood, first torn asunder, and from the roof 
divided into two in the midst, and a sort of gleam- 
ing fire before his eyes (for the place seemed now 
under the open sky) borne down from the hea- 
venly region close to him ; and, the heaven itself 
giving way, and upon the back of the heaven, 
Jesus, with innumerable angels, in the form of 
men, standing around Him. This indeed, he saw, 
above, and himself marvelled ; but below, when 
Carpus had bent down, he affirmed that he saw 
the very foundation ripped in two, to a sort of yawn- 
ing and dark chasm, and those very men, upon 
whom he had invoked a curse, standing before his 
eyes, within the mouth of the chasm, trembling, 
pitiful, only just not yet carried down by the mere 
slipping of their feet ; and from below the chasm, 
serpents, creeping up and gliding from underneath, 
around their feet, now contriving to drag them away, 
and weighing them down, and lifting them up, and 
again inflaming or irritating with their teeth or their 
tails, and all the time endeavouring to pull them 
down into the yawning gulf; and that certain men 
also were in the midst, co-operating with the ser- 
pents against these men, at once tearing and push- 
ing and beating them down. And they seemed 
to be on the point of falling, partly against their 
will, partly by their will; almost overcome by the 
calamity, and at the same time resigned. And 
Carpus said, that he himself was glad, whilst look- 
ing below, and that he was forgetful of the things 

1 66 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

above ; further, that he was vexed and made light 
of it, because they had not already fallen, and 
that he often attempted to accomplish the fact, 
and that, when he did not succeed, he was both 
irritated and cursed. And, when with difficulty he 
raised himself, he saw the heaven again, as he saw 
it before, and Jesus, moved with pity at what was 
taking place, standing up from His super-celestial 
throne, and descending to them, and stretching 
a helping hand, and the angels, co-operating with 
Him, taking hold of the two men, one from one 
place and another from another, and the Lord Jesus 
said to Carpus, whilst His hand was yet extended, 
" Strike against Me in future, for I am ready, even 
again, to suffer for the salvation of men ; and this 
is pleasing to Me, provided that other men do not 
commit sin. But see, whether it is well for thee 
to exchange the dwelling in the chasm, and with 
serpents, for that with God, and the good and 
philanthropic angels." These are the things which 
I heard myself, and believe to be true. 


Zenas, one of the seventy-two disciples, who was 
versed in the science of law, wrote a life of Titus, 
and says that he was descended from the family 
of Minos, King of Crete. Titus gave himself to the 
study of Homer and Philosophy till his twentieth 
year, when he heard a voice from heaven, which 
told him to quit this place and save his soul. He 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 167 

waited one year, to test the truth of the voice, and 
then had a revelation which bade him read the 
Hebrew Scriptures. Opening Isaiah, his eye fell 
on chapter xli. w. 1—5. He was then sent to Jeru- 
salem by the pro-consul of Crete to report upon the 
reality of the miracles said to be performed by Jesus 
Christ. He saw our Saviour, and His miracles, and 
believed ; and became one of the seventy-two. He 
witnessed the Passion and Ascension ; the Apostles 
consecrated him, and sent him with Paul, whom 
he attended to Antioch, to Seleucia and to Crete, 
where Rutilus, pro-consul, was baptized, and Titus 
appointed Bishop. In a.d. 64, St. Paul addressed 
his Epistle to Titus, and about the same time Dio- 
nysius also, this letter. Dexter records that Titus 
visited Spain, and that Pliny, the younger, was 
converted to the Faith by Titus. He consecrated 
the second Bishop of Alexandria, and died at the 
age of 94. 


To Titus, Hierarchy asking by letter ivhat is the house 

of wisdom, what the bowl, and what are its meats 

and drinks ? 

Section I. 

I do not know, O excellent Titus, whether the holy 
Timothy departed, deaf to some of the theological 
symbols which were explained by me. But, in the 
Symbolic Theology, we have thoroughly investigated 
for him all the expressions of the Oracles concerning 
God, which appear to the multitude to be monstrous. 

1 68 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

For they give a colour of incongruity dreadful to the 
uninitiated souls, when the Fathers of the unutterable 
wisdom explain the Divine and Mystical Truth, unap- 
proachable by the profane, through certain, certainly 
hidden and daring enigmas. Wherefore also, the many 
discredit the expressions concerning the Divine Mys- 
teries. For, we contemplate them only through, the 
sensible symbols that have grown upon them. We 
must then strip them, and view them by themselves 
in their naked ,_purity. For, thus contemplating 
them, we should reverence a fountain of Life flowing 
into Itself — viewing It even standing by Itself, 
and as a kind of single power, simple, self-moved, 
and self-worked, not abandoning Itself, but a know- 
ledge surpassing every kind of knowledge, and always 
contemplating Itself, through Itself. We thought 
it necessary then, both for him and for others, that we 
should, as far as possible, unfold the varied, forms 
of the Divine representations of God in symbols. 
For, with what incredible and simulated monstro- 
sities are its external forms filled? For instance, 
with regard to the superessential Divine generation, 
representing a body of God corporally generating 
God ; and describing a word flowing out into air 
from a man's heart p , which eructates it, and a breath, 
breathed q forth from a mouth ; and celebrating God- 
bearing 1 " bosoms embracing a son of God, bodily; 
or representing these things after the manner of 

Ps. ex. 3 ; ii. 7. p lb. xlv. I. « lb. xxxiii. 6. 
r John i. 18. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 169 

plants s , and producing certain trees *, and branches u , 
and flowers x and roots, as examples ; or fountains of 
waters ?, bubbling forth ; or seductive light produc- 
tions of reflected splendours z ; or certain other sacred 
representations which explain superessential descrip- 
tions of God ; but with regard to the intelligible pro- 
vidences of Almighty God, either gifts, manifesta- 
tions, or powers, or properties, or repose, or abidings, 
or progressions, or distinctions, or unions, clothing 
Almighty God in human form a , and in the varied 
shape of wild beasts b and other living creatures , 
and plants, and stones d ; and attributing to Him 
ornaments e of women, or weapons of savages ; and 
assigning working in clay f , and in a furnaces, as 
it were to a sort of artisan ; and placing under Him, 
horses 11 and chariots and thrones; and spreading 
before Him certain dainty meats delicately cooked x ; 
and representing Him as drinking k , and drunken 1 , and 
sleeping m , and suffering from excess n . What would 
any one say concerning the angers , the griefs p, 
the various oaths % the repentances r , the curses, the 
revenges, the manifold and dubious excuses for the 
failure of promises s , the battle of giants in Genesis \ 
during which He is said to scheme against those 

■ Isaiah xi. 10. e John xv. I. u Jer. xxiii. 5. 

* Cant. xi. 1. * John iv. 14. z lb. i. 4. 
» Ps. cxlv. 16. b Hosea xiii. 8. c Matt. iii. 16. 
d Ez. x. I. e Apoc. i. 13—16. f Job x. 9. 

* Ps. lxvi. 10. h Hab. iii. 8. l Luke xxii. 30. 
k Cant. v. I. ' Jer. xlvi. 10. m Ps. xliv. 23. 
■ lb. lxxviii. 65. ° Ex. xv. 7. p Judges x. 16. 
1 Gen. xxii. 16. * lb. vi. 6. "lb. xii. 1—3. l lb. xi. 9. 

170 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

powerful and great men, and this when they were 
contriving the building, not with a view to injustice 
towards other people, but on behalf of their own 
safety? And that counsel devised in heaven to 
deceive and mislead Achab u j and those mundane 
and meritricious passions of the Canticles; and all 
the other sacred compositions which appear in the 
description of God, which stick at nothing, as pro- 
jections, and multiplications of hidden things, and 
divisions of things one and undivided, and formative 
and manifold forms of the shapeless and unformed ; 
of which, if any one were able to see their inner 
hidden beauty, he will find every one of them 
mystical and Godlike, and filled with abundant 
theological light. For let us not think, that the 
appearances of the compositions have been formed 
for their own sake, but that they, shield the science 
unutterable and invisible to the multitude, since 
tilings all-holy arc not within the reach of the 
profane, but are manifested to those only who 
are genuine lovers of piety, who reject all childish 
fancy respecting the holy symbols, and are capable 
to pass with simplicity of mind, anil- aptitude of con- 
templative faculty, to the simple and supernatural 
and elevated truth of the symbols. Besides, we 
must also consider this, that the leaching, .handed 
down by.Jthe_Th£ologians is two-fold— one, secret 
and mystical — the other, open and better known — 
one, symbolical and initiative— the other/ philo- 

n 1 Kings xxii. 20. 

Letters of Diovysius the Areopagite. 171 

sophic and demonstrative ;— and the unspoken is 
intertwined with the spoken. The one persuades, 
and desiderates the truth of the things expressed, 
the other acts and implants in Almighty God, by 
instructions in mysteries not learnt by teaching. 
And certainly, neither our holy instructors x , nor 
those of the law?, abstain from the God-befitting 
symbols, throughout the celebrations of the most 
holy mysteries. Yea, we see even the most holy 
Angels z , mystically advancing things Divine through 
enigmas; and Jesus Himself a , speaking the word 
of God in parables, and transmitting the divinely 
wrought mysteries, through a typical spreading of a 
table b . For, it was seemly, not only that the Holy 
of holies should be preserved undefiled by the multi- 
tude, but also that the Divine knowledge should illu- 
minate the human life, which is at once indivisible 
and divisible, in a manner suitable to itself; and 
to limit the passionless part of the soul to the 
simple, and most inward visions of the most godlike 
images ; but that its impassioned part should wait 
upon, and, at the same time, strive after, the most 
Divine coverings, through the pre-arranged represen- 
tations of the typical symbols, as such (coverings) are, 
by nature, congenial to it. And all those who are 
hearers of a distinct theology without symbols, weave 
in themselves a sort of type, which conducts them 
to the conception of the aforesaid theology. 

x Apoc. 5, y Is. 60. z Zech. iii. 4. 

* Matt. xiii. 34. b lb. xxvi. 26. 

1 7 2 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

Section II. 
But also the very order of the visible universe sets 
forth the invisible things of Almighty God, as says 
both Paul and the infallible Word. Wherefore, 
also, the Theologians view some things politically 
and legally d , but other things, purely and without 
flaw; and some things humanly e , and mediately f , 
but other things supermundanely e and perfectly 11 ; 
at one time indeed, from the laws which are mani- 
fest 1 , and at another, from the institutions which 
are unmanifest k , as befits the holy writings and 
minds and souls under consideration. For the whole 
statement lying before them, and all its details, does 
not contain a bare history, but a vivifying perfection. 
We must then, in opposition to the vulgar conception 
concerning them, reverently enter within the sacred 
symbols, and not dishonour them, being as they are, 
products and moulds of the Divine characteristics, 
and manifest images of the unutterable and super- 
natural visions. For, not only are the superessential 
lights, and things intelligible, and, in one word, 
things Divine, represented in various forms through 
the typical symbols, as the superessential God, spoken 
of as fire \ and the intelligible Oracles of Almighty 
God, as flames of fire m ; but further, even the god- 
like orders of the angels, both contemplated and 

c Ex. iii. 10 ; xviii. 14— 27- d Ib ' xx ' 3~ x 7- 

* Eph. v. 23. f Ps. viii. 4. B E P h - iv « 2 4- 

* Ib. 13. l Ex. xxxi. 18. k Heb. x. 16. 

1 Ueut. iv. 24. m Ps- cxix. 140. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 173 

contemplating, are described under varied forms, 
and manifold likenesses, and empyrean shapes". 
And differently must we take the same likeness of 
fire, when spoken with regard to the inconceivable 
God°; and differently with regard to His intelli- 
gible providences or words; and differently re- 
specting the Angels. The one as causal, but the 
other as originated, and the third as participative, 
and different things differently, as their contempla- 
tion, and scientific arrangements suggest. 

And never must we confuse the sacred symbols 
hap-hazard, but we must unfold them suitably to 
the causes, or the origins, or the powers, or the 
orders, or the dignities of which they are explanatory 
tokens. And, in order that I may not extend my 
letter beyond the bounds of propriety, let us come 
at once to the very question propounded by you ; 
and we affirm that every nourishment is perfective 
of those nourished, filling up their imperfection and 
their lack, and tending the weak, and guarding their 
lives, making to sprout, and renewing and be- 
queathing to them a vivifying wellbeing; and in 
one word, urging the slackening and imperfect, and 
contributing towards their comfort and perfection. 

Section III. 
Beautifully then, the super-wise and Good Wisdom 
is celebrated by the Oracles, as placing a mystical 
bowlP, and pouring forth its sacred drink, but first 

» Ps. civ. 4. ° Luke xii. 49. p ?™v. ix. 2. 

1 74 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

setting forth the solid meats, and with a loud voice 
Itself benignly soliciting those who seek It. The 
Divine Wisdom, then, sets forth the two-fold food ; 
one indeed, solid and fixed, but the other liquid 
and flowing forth ; and in a bowl furnishes Its own 
providential generosities. Now the bowl, being 
spherical and open, let it be a symbol of the Pro- 
vidence over the whole, which at once expands 
Itself and encircles all, without beginning and with- 
out end. But since, even while going forth to all, 
It remains in Itself, and stands fixed in unmoved 
sameness ; and never departing from Itself, the bowl 
also itself stands fixedly and unmovably. But Wisdom 
is also said to build a house for itself, and in it to set 
forth the solid meats and drinks, and the bowl, so 
that it may be evident to those who understand 
things Divine in a manner becoming God, that the 
Author of the being, and of the well being, of all 
things, is both an all-perfect providence, and ad- 
vances to all, and comes into being in every- 
thing S and embraces them all; and on the other 
hand, He, the same, in the same, par excellence, 
is nothing in anything at all, but overtops the 
whole, Himself being in Himself, identically and 
always ; and standing, and remaining, and resting, 
and ever being in the same condition and in the 
same way, and never becoming outside Himself, 
nor falling from His own session, and unmoved 
abiding, and shrine,— yea even, in it, benevolently 

q yfyperai kv t<£ irayrl. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 175 

exercising His complete and all-perfect providences, 
and whilst going forth to all, remaining by Himself 
alone, and standing always, and moving Himself; 
and neither standing, nor moving Himself, but, as 
one might say, both connaturally and supernaturally, 
having His providential energies, in His steadfastness, 
and His steadiness in His Providence. 

Section IV. 
But what is the solid food and what the liquid ? 
For the Good Wisdom is celebrated as at once be- 
stowing and providing these. I suppose then, that 
the solid food is suggestive of the intellectual and 
abiding perfection and sameness, within which, 
things Divine are participated as a stable, and 
strong, and unifying, and indivisible knowledge, by 
those contemplating organs of sense, by which the 
most Divine Paul, after partaking of wisdom, im- 
parts his really solid nourishment ; but that the liquid 
is suggestive of the stream, at once flowing through 
and to all; eager to advance, and further con- 
ducting those who are properly nourished as to 
goodness, through things variegated and many and 
divided, to the simple and invariable knowledge of 
God. Wherefore the divine and spiritually perceived 
Oracles are likened to dew, and water, and to milk, 
and wine, and honey; on account of their life-pro- 
ducing power, as in water ; and growth-giving, as in 
milk ; and reviving, as in wine ; and both purifying and 
preserving, as in honey. For these things, the Divine 
Wisdom gives to those approaching it, and furnishes 

1 7 6 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

and fills to overflowing, a stream of ungrudging and 
unfailing good cheer. This, then, is the veritable 
good cheer; and, on this account, it is celebrated, 
as at once life-giving and nourishing and perfecting. 

Section V. 
According to this sacred explanation of good cheer, 
even Almighty God, Himself the Author of all good 
things, is said to be inebriated, by reason of the 
super-full, and beyond conception, and ineffable, 
immeasurableness, of the good cheer, or to speak 
more properly, good condition of Almighty God. 
For, as regards us, in the worst sense, drunkenness 
is both an immoderate repletion, and being out of 
mind and wits ; so, in the best sense, respecting God, 
we ought not to imagine drunkenness as anything 
else beyond the super-full immeasurableness of all 
good things pre-existing in Him as Cause. But, even 
in respect to being out of wits, which follows upon 
drunkenness, we must consider the pre-eminence 
of Almighty God, which is above conception, in 
which He overtops our conception, as being above 
conception and above being conceived, and above 
being itself; and in short, Almighty God is inebri- 
ated with, and outside of, all good things whatever, 
as being at once a super-full hyperbole of every 
immeasurableness of them all ; and again, as dwell- 
ing outside and beyond the whole. Starting then 
from these, we will take in the same fashion even 
the feasting of the pious, in the Kingdom of 
Almighty God. For He says, the King Himself 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 1 7 7 

will come and make them recline, and will Himself 
minister to them r . Now these things manifest a 
common and concordant communion of the holy, 
upon the good things of God, and a church of tie 
first born s , whose names are written in heavens ; 
and spirits of just men made perfect by all good 
things, and replete with all good things; and the 
reclining, we imagine, a cessation from their many 
labours, and a life without pain ; and a godly citizen- 
ship in light and place of living souls, replete with 
every holy bliss, and an ungrudging provision of 
every sort of blessed goods ; within which they are 
filled with every delight; whilst Jesus both makes 
them recline, and ministers to them, and furnishes 
this delight ; and Himself bequeaths their everlasting 
rest; and at once distributes and pours forth the 
fulness of good things. 

Section VI. 
But, I well know you will further ask that the 
propitious sleep of Almighty God, and His awaken- 
ing \ should be explained. And, when we have said, 
that the superiority of Almighty God, and His 
incommunicability with the objects of His Pro- 
vidence is a Divine sleep, and that the attention 
to His Providential cares of those who need His 
discipline, or His preservation, is an awakening, you 
will pass to other symbols of the Word of God. 
Wherefore, thinking it superfluous that by running 

r Luke xii. 37. ■ Heb. xii. 23. l Ps. xliv. 23. 


178 Letters of Dionysius the A reopagite. 

through the same things to the same persons, we 
should seem to say different things, and, at the same 
time, conscious that you assent to things that are 
good, we finish this letter at what we have said, 
having set forth, as I think, more than the things 
solicited in your letters. Further, we send the whole 
of our Symbolical Theology, within which you will 
find, together with the house of wisdom, also the 
seven pillars investigated, and its solid food divided 
into sacrifices and breads. And what is the mingling 
of the wine ; and again, What is the sickness arising 
from the inebriety of Almighty God? and in fact, 
the things now spoken of are explained in it more 
explicitly. And it is, in my judgment, a correct 
enquiry into all the symbols of the Word of God, 
and agreeable to the sacred . traditions and truths 
of the Oracles. 


To John, Theologos, Apostle and Evangelist, 
imprisoned in the Isle of Pat mo s. 
I salute thee, the holy soul ! O beloved one ! and 
this for me is more appropriate than for most. Hail ! 
O truly beloved! And to the truly Loveable and 
Desired, very beloved ! Why should it be a marvel, 
if Christ speaks truly, and the unjust banish His 
disciples from their cities u , themselves bringing upon 
themselves their due, and the accursed severing 
themselves, and departing from the holy. Truly 

u Matt, xxiii. 34. 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 179 

things seen are manifest images of things unseen. 
For, neither in the ages which are approaching, will 
Almighty God be Cause* of the just separations 
from Himself, but they by having separated them- 
selves entirely from Almighty God ; even as we 
observe the others, becoming here already with 
Almighty God, since being lovers of truth, they 
depart from the proclivities of things material, and 
love peace in a complete freedom from all things 
evil, and a Divine love of all things good ; and start 
their purification y , even from the present life, by 
living, in the midst of mankind, the life 2 which 
is to come, in a manner suitable to angels, with 
complete cessation of passion, and deification and 
goodness, and the other good attributes. As for 
you then, I would never be so crazy as to imagine 
that you feel any suffering ; but I am persuaded that 
you are sensible of the bodily sufferings merely to 
appraise them. But, as for those who are unjustly 
treating you, and fancying to imprison, not correctly, 
the sun of the Gospel, whilst fairly blaming them, 
I pray that by separating themselves from those 
things which they are bringing upon themselves they 
may be turned to the good, and may draw you 
to themselves, and may participate in the light. 
But for ourselves, the contrary will not deprive us 
of the all-luminous ray of John, who are even now 
about to read the record, and the renewal of this, 
thy true theology: but shortly after (for I will say 

x Matt. xiii. 49. r 2 Cor. iv. 11. ■ Phil. iii. 20. 

180 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

it, even though it be rash), about to be united to you 
yourself. For, I am altogether trustworthy, from 
having learned, and reading the things made fore- 
known to you by God, that you will both be liberated 
from your imprisonment in Patmos, and will return 
to the Asiatic coast, and will perform there imi- 
tations of the good God, and will transmit them 
to those after you. 

Dionysius to Apollophanes, Philosopher. 
At length I send a word to thee, O Love of my 
heart, and recall to thy memory the many anxieties 
and solicitudes, which I have formerly undergone 
on thy account. For thou rememberest with what 
a mild and benevolent disposition I have been ac- 
customed to rebuke thy obstinacy in error, although 
with scant reason, in order that I might uproot those 
vain opinions with which thou wast deceived. But 
now, adoring the supreme toleration of the Divine 
long-suffering towards thee, I offer thee my con- 
gratulations, O part of my soul, now that you are 
turning your eyes to your soul's health. For, even 
the very things which formerly you delighted to 
spurn, you now delight to affirm; and the things 
that you used to reject with scorn, you now delight 
to enforce. For, often have I set before you, and 
that with great precision, what even Moses com- 
mitted to writing, that man was first made by God, 
from mud, and the sins of the world were punished 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagtte. 181 

by the flood, and in process of time, that the same 
Moses, united in friendship with God, performed 
many wonders, both in Egypt and the exodus from 
Egypt, by the power and action of the same God. 
Nor Moses only, but other divine prophets sub- 
sequently, published similar things, not infrequently, 
who long before foretold that God should take 
the nature of man from a Virgin. To which state- 
ment of mine, not once, but often, you replied, that 
you did not know whether these things were true, and 
that you were entirely ignorant, even who that Moses 
was, and whether he was white or black. Further, 
that you rejected with scorn the Gospel of Jesus 
Christ, Who is God of all Majesty— which you used 
to call mine. Further, that Paul, the globe trotter, 
and a scatterer of words, who was calling people 
from things terrestrial to things celestial, you were 
unwilling to receive. Lastly, you reproach me, 
as a turncoat, who had left the customs of my 
country's religion, and was leading people to ini- 
quitous sacrilege, and urged me to unlearn the 
things in which I was placing my trust ; or, at least, 
that I should put away other people's things, and 
deem it sufficient to keep what was my own, lest 
I should be found to detract from the honour due 
to divine deities, and the institutions of my fathers. 
But, after the supernal light of the paternal glory 
of His own will sent the rays of His own splendour 
upon the darkness of your mind, at once He put 
into my inmost heart, that I should recall to your 
mind the whole counsel of God. How, for instance, 

, 8 2 Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 

when we were staying in Heliopolis (I was then 
about twenty-five, and your age was nearly the same 
as mine), on a certain sixth day, and about the sixth 
hour the sun, to our great surprise, became obscured, 
through the moon passing over it, not because it 
is a god, but because a creature of God, when 
its very true light was setting, could not bear to 
shine Then I earnestly asked thee, what thou, 
O man most wise, thought of it. Thou, then, gave 
such an answer as remained fixed in my mind, 
and that no oblivion, not even that of the image 
of death, ever allowed to escape. For, when the 
whole orb had been throughout darkened, by a black 
mist of darkness, and the sun's disk had begun again 
to be purged and to shine anew, then taking the 
table of Philip Aridsus, and contemplating the orbs 
of heaven, we learned, what was otherwise well 
known, that an eclipse of the sun could not, at that 
time, occur. Next, we observed that the moon 
approached the sun from the east, and intercepted 
its rays, until it covered the whole ; whereas, at 
other times, it used to approach from the west. 
Further also, we noted that when it had reached the 
extreme edge of the sun, and had covered the whole 
orb that it then went back towards the east, al- 
though that was a time which called neither for the 
presence of the moon, nor for the conjunction of 
the sun. I therefore, O treasury of manifold learn- 
ing since I was incapable of understanding so great 
a mystery, thus addressed thee-" What thinkest 
thou of this thing, O Apollophanes, mirror of learn- 

Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite. 183 

ing ? " " Of what mysteries do these unaccustomed 
portents appear to you to be indications?" Thou 
then, with inspired lips, rather than with speech 
of human voice, ""These are, O excellent Dionysius," 
thou saidst, "changes of things divine." At last, 
when I had taken note of the day and year, and had 
perceived that, that time, by its testifying signs, 
agreed with that which Paul announced to me, 
once when I was hanging upon his lips, then I gave 
my hand to the truth, and extricated my feet from 
the meshes of error. Which truth, henceforth, I, 
with admiration, both preach and urge upon thee — 
which is life and way, and true light, — which lighteth 
every man coming into this world, — to which even 
thou at last, as truly wise, hast yielded. For thou 
yieldedst to life when thou renounced death. And 
surely thou hast, at length, acted in the best possible 
manner, if thou shalt adhere henceforth to the same 
truth, so as to associate with us more closely. For 
those lips will henceforth be on our side, by the 
splendour of whose words, as blunting the edge 
of my mind, thou hast been accustomed by pretexts 
brought from various quarters, and by a gorgeous 
glow of eloquence, to vex the innermost recesses 
of our breast; — yea, even sometimes to probe us 
sharply by occasional stings of malice. Wherefore 
as formerly, as thou thyself used to say, the know- 
ledge of Christian doctrine, although savoury, was 
not savoury to thee, but when you had brought 
yourself to it, merely to taste, it shrank from your 
mental palate, and as it were, disdained to find 

1 84 Letters of Diotiysius the Areopagite, 

a resting-place in your stomach ; so now, after you 
have acquired a heart, intelligent and provident, 
elevate thyself to things supernal, and do not sur- 
render, for things that are not, things which really 
are. Therefore in future, be so much more obsti- 
nate against those who have urged you to the false, 
as you showed yourself perverse towards us, when 
we invited you, with all our force, to the truth. For 
thus, I, in the Lord Jesus, Whose Presence is my 
being and my life, will henceforth die joyful, since 
thou also livest in Him. 

End of Dionysius the Areopagite. May his prayer 
be with us ! 

NOTE, p. 147- 

The "twenty hours" which made one day almost 
equal to three are reckoned thus. A degree repre- 
sents an hour. The Sun went down ten degrees = 
ten hours. The Sun had then run already a course 
of ten hours, from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. In returning 
there were ten hours more, and in retracing the route 
ten hours more, which together make thirty hours. 
The two hours, to complete the day of twelve hours, 
make thirty-two hours. The thirty-two hours are 
four hours less than thirty-six, the time of three days 
qf twelve hours each. One day was thus nearly 
equal to three. Whatever we may think the facts, 
the Babylonians commemorated the threefold Mythra 
— the Sun— in consequence. See Dulac. 


This Liturgy gives the doctrine of Dionysius in 
a liturgical form. The Greek original might be 
restored from the writings of Dionysius. No one 
could reasonably doubt that the Author of the 
Writings and the Liturgy was the same. This 
Liturgy should be compared with the Coptic 
Liturgy of Dionysius, Bishop of Athens, disciple 
of Paul, and with the Liturgy of St. Basil, adapted 
from this, as used by the Uniat Copts, translated 
by the Marquess of Bute. In my opinion, this 
Liturgy was written for the Therapeutae near Alex- 
andria, described by Philo in his "contemplative 
life," who were Christians ; who occupied themselves 
with the contemplation of the Divine Names, and 
the heavenly Hierarchy. It was written not earlier 
than the death of James, Apostle and Martyr, 
a.d. 42, and probably not later than a.d. 67 ; when 
Dionysius, at the request of St. Paul, left Athens 
to meet the Apostle at Rome, for the purpose of 
being sent by him to Gaul. A note of primitive 
antiquity is found in the description of the Church, 
as " from one end of the earth to the other." 
There is no " one, only, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic 
Orthodox Church," as in the later Liturgy of St. 
Basil. Some expressions are obscure, from the Latin 



Version, and it would be rash, without profound 
study, to venture to suggest the Greek text. In 
consequence of this, and other Liturgies, and his 
excellent writings, Dionysius was frequently com- 
memorated in the diptychs as one of the Doctors 
of the Church. 


ist. The Prayer before the Pax b . 

Pr. c " O Lord God, Who art simplex, not com- 
pound, and hidden in essence sublime ! God the 
Father, from Whom all paternity which is in heaven 
and earth is named d , Source of Divinity, of those 
who participate in the Divine Nature, and Perfector 
of those who attain perfection ; Good above all good, 
and Beautiful above all beautiful ; Peaceful repose, 
Peace, Concord and Union of all souls ; compose 
the dissensions which divide us from one another, 
and lead them back to an union with charity, which 
has a kind of similitude to Thy sublime essence : 
and as Thou art One above all, and we, one,, through 
the unanimity of a good mind ; that we may be 
found before Thee simplex and not divided, whilst 
celebrating this mystery; and that through the 
embraces of Charity and bonds of Love, we may 
be spiritually one, both with ourselves and with 
one another, through that Thy Peace pacifying all ; 
through the Grace and Compassion and Love to- 
wards man of Thine Only-begotten Son; through 

a Liturgiarum Orien. Collectio E. Renaudoti. Par, 1847. T. ii. 
p. 201. 

b D. N., C. I. §4; C. II. § 11. 

c Pr. = Priest. D. = Deacon. P. = Populus. 

d C. II. § 5. 

1 8 8 Liturgy of St. Dionysius, 

Whom, and with Whom is due to Thee, glory, 
honour and dominion, with Thy most holy Spirit." 
P. "Amen." Pr. "Pax" (to all). P. "And with 
thy spirit." D. "Let each one give the Peace." 
P. "All." D. "Post." P. " Before Thee, O Lord." 
Pr. " Giver of Holiness, and distributor of every 
good, O Lord, Who sanctifiest every rational creature 
with sanctification, which is from Thee; sanctify, 
through Thy Holy Spirit, us Thy servants, who 
bow before Thee ; free us from all servile passions 
of sin, from envy, treachery, deceit, hatred, enmities, 
and from him, who works the same, that we may 
be worthy, holily to complete the ministry of these 
life-giving Sacraments, through the heavenly Pontiff, 
Jesus Christ, Thine Only-begotten Son, through 
Whom, and with Whom, is due to Thee, glory and 
honour." P. "Amen." Pr. "Essentially existing, 
and from all ages; Whose nature is incomprehen- 
sible, Who art near and present to all, without any 
change of Thy sublimity; Whose goodness every 
existing thing longs for and desires ; the intelligible 
indeed, and creatures endowed with intelligence, 
through intelligence; those endowed with sense, 
through their senses ; Who, although Thou art One 
essentially, nevertheless art present with us, and 
amongst us, in this hour, in which Thou hast called 
and led us to these Thy holy mysteries ; and hast 
made us worthy to stand before the sublime throne 
of Thy majesty, and to handle the sacred vessels 
of Thy ministry with our impure hands : take away 
from us, O Lord, the cloke of iniquity in which 

Bishop of the Athenians. iSg 

we are enfolded, as from Jesus, the son of Josedec 
the High Priest, Thou didst take away the filthy 
garments, and adorn us with piety and justice, as 
Thou didst adorn him with a vestment of glory ; 
that clothed with Thee alone, as it were with 
a garment, and being like temples crowned with 
glory, we may see Thee unveiled with a mind 
divinely illuminated, and may feast, whilst we, 
by communicating therein, enjoy this sacrifice set 
before us ; and render to Thee glory and praise." 
P. "Amen." D. "Let us stand becomingly." P. 
" The Mercies of God." Pr. "Charity." P. "And 
with thy spirit." Pr. "Lift up your hearts." P. 
"We lift them to the Lord." Pr. "Let us give 
thanks to the Lord." P. "It is meet and right." 
Priest {bending tow), " For truly the celebration of 
Thy benefits, O Lord, surpasses the powers of mind, 
of speech, and of thought; neither is sufficient every 
mouth, mind and tongue, to glorify Thee worthily. 
For, by Thy word the heavens were made, and by 
the breath of Thy mouth all the celestial powers ; 
all the lights in the firmament, sun and moon, sea 
and dry land, and whatever is in them. The voice- 
less, by their silence, the vocal, by their voices, 
words and hymns, perpetually bless Thee ; because 
Thou art essentially good and beyond all praise, 
existing in Thy essence incomprehensibly. This 
visible and sensible creature praises Thee, and also 
that intellectual, placed above sensible perception. 
Heaven and earth glorify Thee. Sea and air pro- 
claim Thee. The sun, in his course, praises Thee ; 

1 90 Liturgy of St. Dionysius, 

the Moon, in her changes, venerates Thee. Troops 
of Archangels, and hosts of Angels ; those virtues, 
more sublime than the world and mental faculty, 
send benedictions to Thine abode. Rays of light, 
eminent and hidden, send their sanctus to Thy 
glory. Principalities and Orders praise Thee, with 
their Jubilate. Powers and dominions venerate 
Thee. Virtues, Thrones and Seats inaccessible exalt 
Thee. Splendours of light eternal — mirrors without 
flaw — holy essences — recipients of wisdom sublime — 
beyond all, investigators of the will hidden from all, 
in clearest modulations of inimitable tones, and by 
voices becoming a rational creature ; many eyed 
Cherubim of most subtle movement, bless Thee. 
Seraphin, furnished with six wings intertwined, cry 
Sanctus unto Thee. Those very ones, who veil 
their faces with their wings, and cover their feet 
with wings, and flying on every side, and clapping 
with their wings, (that they may not be devoured 
by Thy devouring fire) sing one to another with 
equal harmony of all, sweet chants, pure from every 
thing material, rendering to Thee, eternal glory ; 
crying with one hymn, worthy of God, and saying," 
P. " Holy, holy, holy." Priest {bending)—" Holy art 
Thou, O God the Father, Omnipotent, Maker and 
Creator of every creature— Invisible and visible, and 
sensible ; Holy art Thou, O God, the Only-begotten 
Son, Power and Wisdom of the Father, Lord and 
our Saviour Jesus Christ ; Holy art Thou, O God, 
the Holy Spirit, Perfector and Sanctifier of Saints. 
Triad, Holy and undivided — co-essential and of 

Bishop of the A thenians. 191 

equal glory, Whose compassion towards our race 
is most effusive. Thou art holy, and making all 
things holy. Who didst not leave that, our very 
race, in exile from Paradise, although in the mean- 
time involved in every kind of sin, but wast mani- 
fested to it by the Word, Who, in the presence 
of the world, suffered extreme poverty ; it in very 
truth, He, the Word, took, being made like to it 
in all things, sin excepted, that it might make Him 
prepared beforehand unto holiness, and disposed 
for this life-giving feast. {Raising his voice) Who 
being conceived, formed and configured by the Holy 
Spirit, and from virgin blood of the Virgin Mary, 
holy genitrix of God, was born indeed Man, and 
from the pure and most holy body of the same, 
and receiving Deity in Flesh, whilst the law and 
properties of nature were preserved, but in a manner 
beyond nature, and was acknowledged God in the 
Spirit, and Man in the flesh ; and inasmuch as the 
Word existed before the ages, from Thee, as was 
worthy of God, was born, and by power and miracles, 
such as became the Maker of all, was testified that 
He was such, from the very fact that He has freely 
imparted a complete healing and a perfect salvation 
to the whole human race. Likewise, in the end 
and consummation of His dispensation on our be- 
half, and before His saving Cross, He took bread 
into His pure and holy hands, and looked to Thee, 
O God the Father; giving thanks, He blessed, 
sanctified, brake and gave to His disciples, the 
holy Apostles, saying, "Take and eat from it and 

1 9 2 Liturgy of St. Dionysius, 

believe that it is my body, that same, which for 
you and for many is broken and given, for the 
expiation of faults, the remission of sins, and eternal 
life." P. "Amen." Pr. "Likewise, in the same 
manner, over the cup also, which He mingled with 
wine and water, He gave thanks, blessed, sanctified, 
and gave to the same disciples and holy apostles, 
saying, ' Take, drink from it, all of you, and believe 
that this is My blood of the new covenant, which 
is shed and given for you and for many, for the 
expiation of faults, remission of sins, and eternal life.'" 
P. "Amen." 

Pr. " Himself also, through the same holy Apostles, 
gave a precept to the whole company and congrega- 
tion of the faithful, saying, ' This do to the memory 
of Me, and as oft as ye shall eat this bread and 
drink the commixture which is in this cup, and shall 
celebrate this feast, ye shall perform a commemor- 
ation of My death until I come.' " P. " Of Thy 
death, O Lord, we perform a memorial." Pr. " Obey- 
ing, then, Thy sovereign precept, and celebrating 
a commemoration of Thy death and resurrection, 
through this sacrifice in perpetual mystery, we await 
also Thy second coming, the renovation of our race, 
and the vivification of our mortality. For, not 
simply, but with glory worthy of God, in Spirit 
ineffable, Thou wilt terribly come, and seated upon 
the lofty throne of Thy majesty, Thou wilt exact the 
acknowledgment of Thy royal power, from all 
things created and made: and justly, Thou wilt 
take° vengeance for Thy image upon those who 

Bishop of the Athenians. 193 

have corrupted it through evil passions. This sac- 
rifice, here celebrated, we commemorate to Thee, 

Lord, and the sufferings which Thou didst endure 
on the Cross for us. Be propitious, O Good, and 
Lover of men, in that hour full of fear and trembling, 
to this congregation of those adoring Thee, and 
to all sons of the holy Church, bought by Thy 
precious blood. May coals of fire be kept from 
those who are tinged with Thy blood, and sealed 
by Thy sacraments in Thy holy Name, as formerly 
the Babylonian flame from the youths of the house 
of Hanania; for neither do we know others beside 
Thee, O God, nor in other have we hope of attain- 
ing salvation, since indeed Thou art the Helper and 
Saviour of our race ; and on this account, our wise 
Church, through all our lips and tongues, implores 
Thee, and through Thee, and with Thee, Thy Father, 
saying " — 

P. "Have mercy." Pr. "We also." D. "How 
tremendous is this hour." {The Priest bending, says 
the prayer of the invocation of the Holy Spirit.) 
Pr. " I invoke Thee, O God the Father, have mercy 
upon us, and wash away, through Thy grace, the 
uncleanness of my evil deeds ; destroy, through Thy 
mercy, what I have done, worthy of wrath ; for 

1 do not extend my hands to Thee with presump- 
tion, for I am not able even to look to heaven 
on account of the multitude of my iniquities and 
the filth of my wickedness. But, strengthening my 
mind, in Thy loving-kindness, grace and long-suffer- 
ing, I crave Thy holy Spirit, that Thou wouldst send 


194 Liturgy of St. Dionysius, 

Him upon me, and upon these oblations, here set 
forth, and upon Thy faithful people." Pr. "Hear 
me, O Lord." P. " Kyrie eleison," three times. 
Pr. "Through His alighting upon them, and His 
overshadowing, may He make this bread indeed, 
living body, and procuring life to our souls; body 
salutary — body celestial— body saving our souls and 
bodies — body of our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus 
Christ — for remission of sins, and eternal life, for 
those receiving it." P. "Amen." Pr. "And the 
commixture, which is in this cup, may He make 
living blood, and procuring life to all our souls; 
blood salutary — blood celestial — blood saving our 
souls and bodies — blood of our Lord God and 
Saviour Jesus Christ, for remission of sins to those 
receiving them." P. "Amen." Pr. "Further, ac- 
cording to the tradition, and Divine recommendation 
of those, who were eye witnesses of Thy mysteries, 
and interpreters of Thy wonderful acts, we offer this 
Eucharist before Thee, O Lord, and through it 
we commemorate Thy charity towards us, and the 
universal dispensation of Thine Only-begotten One, 
in this world, that Thou wouldst also be reminded 
through it of Thy mercy, cognate and natural to 
Thee, which, at all hours, is shed upon Thy creatures, 
and wouldst snatch us from the wrath, reserved for 
the wicked ; and from the punishments of those who 
work iniquity ; and from the cruel attack of demons, 
, .who attack our souls, when we shall go hence; and 
/ouldst make us worthy of Thy kingdom, and the 
ntations of those who have kept Thy precepts ; 

Bishop of the Athenians. 195 

and we will render to Thee, glory and the giving 
of thanks, &c." P. " Amen." Pr. (bending) " By 
Thy words, that cannot lie, and by Thy most true 
teachings, Thou hast said, O Lord, that great is the 
joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. Re- 
joice then now, O Lord, in the conversion of Thy 
servants, who stand here before Thee; add also, 
exultation over us, to the souls of the pious and 
just Fathers — Patriarchs — Prophets — Apostles — 
Preachers — Evangelists — Martyrs — Confessors — 
Zealots of Divine Worship — Benefactors — Givers of 
Alms — of those who minister to the necessities of 
the poor — and from all, may there be one act of 
praise to-day, before Thee, at this holy Altar, and 
in the heavenly Jerusalem." (Elevating his voice) 
"And on account of these, and other things of the 
same kind, may Thy holy Church, which is from one 
end of the earth to the other, be established, and 
preserved in tranquillity and peace, in doctrines 
evangelical and apostolical, by Divine Hierarchs, 
rightly dispensing the word of truth, and instructing, 
by the dogmas of true religion : through holy Priests, 
who embrace the word of life, and carry themselves 
illustriously in dispensing Thy celestial mysteries : 
through Deacons, who are modest, and perform the 
pure and royal ministry without flaw, through true, 
faithful ones, who occupy themselves in words and 
acts worthy of a Christian ; through choirs of virgins 
of each sex, bearing about in their members the life- 
giving mortification of Thy Only-begotten Son. And 
from hence, in one troop, may we all be sent to that 

196 Liturgy of St. Dionysius, 

Church, the Jerusalem of the firstborn, whose names 
are written in the heavens, and there let us spiritually 
glorify Thee, O God the Father, and Thine Only- 
begotten Son, and Thy Holy Spirit." P. "Amen." 
Pr. "Assist also, O Lord, all those who assist Thy 
Holy Church, by offerings— by tenths— by ministry — 
and by oblations ; and those also, who ask the 
prayers of our littleness, give to them the object 
of those their prayers, O Lord, Lover of men." 
{Raising his voice) "Send also perfect attention 
and full health to all those who have the charge 
of the poor, who provide food for orphans and 
widows, and visit the infirm and afflicted. Restore 
to them, here indeed abundance and goods, there 
also delights incorruptible, because thou art Lord 
of each age, and distributor of immense reward. 
And to Thee beseems beneficence, both here and 
there, and to Thine Only-begotten Son." P. " Amen." 
Pr. {bending) " Restrain, O King of Kings, the wrath 
of kings, mitigate the fury of soldiers, take away 
wars and seditions, cast down the pride of heretics, 
and the sentences pronounced against us by Justice, 
may Thy love for mankind overcome, and turn into 
the gentleness of benignity"; {raising his voice) 
" Tranquillity and Peace from Thee, concede to the 
earth and all its inhabitants, visit it with Thy benefits 
and the care of Thy mercy, with a good and temper- 
ate condition of atmosphere, copiousness of fruits, 
and abundance of crops, and variety of flowers; 
preserve it from all pests of fury, and all unjust 
attacks of enemies, both spiritual and sensible, that 

Bishop of the Athenians. 197 

without any injury of passion, we may sing perpetual 
hymns of praise, to Thee and to Thine Only-begotten 
Son." P. "Amen." Pr. {bending) "At this altar, 
and at that more exalted one in heaven, may there 
be a good remembrance of all those, who, out of the 
world, have pleased Thee — chiefly indeed of the 
Holy genitrix of God, of John the Messenger, Baptist 
and Forerunner, of Peter and Paul, and of the holy 
company of the Apostles, of Stephen also, and of 
the whole multitude of Martyrs, and of all those, 
who, before them, with them and after them, have 
pleased, and do please Thee." {Raising his voice) 
"And since indeed Thou art Omnipotent, to the 
company of those beloved ones and to Thy family, 
join our weakness, O Lord, to that blessed con- 
gregation, to this Divine part, that, through them 
may be received our oblations and prayers, before 
the lofty throne of Thy Majesty, inasmuch as we 
are weak and infirm, and wanting in confidence 
before Thee. Forsooth, our sin and our righteous- 
ness are as nothing in comparison with the ocean, 
broad and immense, of Thy mercy. Looking then, 
into the hearts of each, send to each one good 
returns for their petitions, that in all and in each 
may be adored and praised, Thy Majesty, and that 
of Thine Only-begotten Son." P. "Amen." Pr. 
{bending) "Remember, O Lord, all Bishops, Doctors 
and Prelates of Thy holy Church, those, who from 
James, Apostle, Bishop and Martyr, to this present 
day, have pleased, and do please Thee." {Raising 
his voice) "Engraft in us, O Lord, their true faith, 

198 Liturgy of St. Dionysius, 

and their zeal for the true religion ; their sincere 
charity without defect ; their morals without stain ; 
in order that, adhering to their footsteps, we may 
be partakers of their reward, and of the crowns of 
victory which are prepared for them in Thy heavenly 
kingdom, and there, together with them, we may 
sing to Thee, Glory unceasing, and to Thy Only- 
begotten Son." P. "Amen." Pr. (pending) "Re- 
member, O Lord, all those who are fallen asleep, 
who have laid themselves down in Thy hope, in 
the true faith. More especially, and by name, 
our Fathers, Brothers and Masters, and those, on 
behalf of whom, and by favour of whom, this holy 
oblation is offered," {raising his voice) "join, O Lord, 
their names, with the names of Thy Saints in the 
blessed habitation of those, who feast and rejoice 
in Thee ; not recalling against them the memory 
of their sins, nor bringing to their memory the 
things which they have foolishly done. For no 
one is tied to the flesh, and at the same time, 
innocent in Thy sight. For One alone has been 
seen on earth without sin, Jesus Christ, Thine Only- 
begotten Son; Simplex e , who came to composition, 
through whom we also have hope of obtaining 
mercy." P. " Keep quiet." Pr. {bending) " Re- 
mitting our and their voluntary sins, knowingly 
or ignorantly committed. Be propitious, O Lord, 
Lover of men." {Raising his voice) "And grant 
to us a peaceful end, departure with mercy, that 
we may stand without fault on the right hand ; and, 

• D. N., C. I. § 4. 

Bishop of the Athenians. 199 

with open face, and confidence, run to meet the 
arising of Thine Only-begotten Son, and His second 
and glorious manifestation from heaven; and may 
hear from Him, that blessed voice, which He shall 
pronounce at the last day to the Blessed." " Blessed 
of my Father receive the inheritance of the heavenly 
kingdom," " that in this, as in all, may be glorified 
and praised, Thy most venerated Name." P. " That, 
&c." Pr. "Peace." P. "And with thy spirit." 
The Priest breaks the Host, and says the prayer, 
before "Our Father." Pr. "Father of all, and 
Beginning, Which is above all things — Light eternal, 
and Fountain of Light, Which illuminates all natures 
endowed with reason ; Who callest the poor from 
the dust, and raisest the beggar from the dunghill ; 
and hast called us, .lost, rejected, and infirm, to 
the liberty and household dignity of Thy sons, 
through Thy beloved Son, grant to us, that we may 
appear in Thy sight, holy sons, and not unworthy 
of the name ; and may also perform all our ministry 
after a blameless manner ; and with purity of soul, 
and cleanness of intellect, and with a godly mind, 
whenever we invoke Thee, God the Father Omni- 
potent, holy and heavenly, we pray and say, Our 
Father, which art in heaven." P. " Hallowed be 
Thy Name, &c." Pr. "Free us, Thy servants and 
sons, from all temptations, most difficult, and sur- 
passing our forces ; and from all griefs, which can 
bring loss to our body or soul. Guard us, at the 
same time from the evil one, and from his universal 
power, and from his most pernicious devices. For 

200 Liturgy of St. Dionysius, 

Thou art King of all, and to Thee we render glory." 
P. "Amen." Pr. "Peace," P. "And with thy 
spirit." D. "Before" (Ante). P. " Before Thee, 
O Lord." (Coram.) Pr. "Look, O Lord, upon 
Thy faithful people, who bend before Thee, and 
await Thy gift, and contemplate the deposit of 
the Sacraments of Thy Only-begotten, O God the 
Father. Take not away Thy grace from us, and 
cast us not away from Thy ministry, and from 
participation in Thy sacraments, but prepare us, 
that we may be pure and without flaw, and worthy 
of this feast; and that, with a conscience unblam- 
able, we may ever enjoy His precious body and 
blood; and in a life, glorious and endless, may 
recline in a spiritual habitation, and may feast at 
the table of Thy kingdom, and may render to Thee 
glory and praise." P. "Amen." Pr. "Peace." 
P -And with thy spirit." D. "With fear." Pr. 
-Holy things to holy persons." P. ''One^holy 
Father." D. "Let us stand becomingly." P. 
"Before Thee." Pr. "We give thanks to Thee, 
O Lord, and with grateful mind we acknowledge 
Thy loving-kindness; because, from nothing, Thou 
hast led us forth to that which we are, and hast 
made us members of Thy household, and sons of 
Thy sacraments; and hast entrusted this religious 
ministry to us, and hast made us worthy of this 
spiritual table. Preserve in us, O Lord, the deposit 
of Thy Divine Mysteries, that we may frame and 
complete our life in Thy sight, after the fashion 
of the angels; that we may be secured and in- 

Bishop of the Athenians. 201 

separable through the reception of Thy holy (mys- 
teries) ; performing Thy great and perfect will, and 
may be found ready for that last consummation, and 
to stand before Thy Majesty, and may be made 
worthy of the pleasure of Thy kingdom, through 
the grace, mercy and love towards man, of Thy 
Only-begotten Son, through Whom, and with Whom, 
is due to Thee, glory, honour, &c." P. " Amen." 
Pr. "Peace." P. "And with thy spirit." D. 
"After" (Post). P. "Before Thee, O Lord." Pr. 
" O Christ, the King of Glory, and Father of the 
Age to come ; Holy Sacrifice ; heavenly Hierarch ; 
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sin of the 
world, spare the sins of Thy people, and dismiss 
the foolishness of Thy flock. Preserve us, through 
the communication of Thy Sacraments, from every 
sin, whether it be committed by word, or thought, 
or deed ; and from whatever makes us far from 
the familiarity of Thy household, that our bodies 
may be guarded by Thy body, and our souls re- 
newed through Thy sacraments. And may Thy 
benediction, O Lord, be in our whole man, within 
and without ; and may Thou be glorified in us, and 
by us, and may Thy right hand rest upon us, and 
that of Thy blessed Father, and of Thy most holy 
Spirit." P, "Amen." D. " Bless, G Lord." 

Christmas, 1896. 


The most plausible objection to the genuineness 
of these writings is thus expressed by Dupin : 
" Eusebius and Jerome wrote an accurate catalogue 
of each author known to them — with a few obscure 
exceptions, — and yet never mention the writings of 
the Areopagite." Great is the rejoicing in the House 
of the Anti-Areopagites over this proof ; — but what 
are the facts? Eusebius acknowledges that innu- 
merable works have not come to him— Jerome dis- 
claims either to know or to give an accurate catalogue 
either of authors or works. The Library of Caesarea 
contained three hundred thousand volumes, accord- 
ing to the modest computation of Doublet, according 
to Schneider, many more — Jerome says there are 
some writings, so illustrious in themselves, that they 
will not suffer from not being mentioned by him ; 
Jerome follows Dionysius on the Heavenly Hier- 
archy; Jerome's Catalogue of Illustrious Men con- 
tains one hundred and thirty-five names. 

Josephus is mentioned for his testimony to Christ 
— Seneca, for his correspondence with St. Paul — 
Philo, for his description of the Therapeutae of 
Alexandria. Yet Dupin would have the unwary infer 
that Jerome gives a full catalogue of each Author 
known to him, with a few obscure exceptions. 

The " Ecclesiastical History " of Eusebius treats of 

Objections to Geiiirineness. 203 

the nature of Christ, the companions of the Apostles, 
the Martyrdoms — the succession of Bishops — the 
persecutions — -the folk-lore of the Church to the 
fourth Century. The Book would fill about 125 
pages, yet Dupin would have us believe that he gives 
a complete catalogue ; He does not give the writings 
of Hymenals and Narcissus, of Athenagoras, and 
Pantaenus, nor a complete list of Clement, Origen, 
and Dionysius of Alexandria. His silence, in my 
opinion, is owing to " odium theologicum." Accord- 
ing to Eusebius, Jesus is Sn-ro's ; according to Dio- 
nysius, Jesus is tinXovs; both true when properly 
understood, but when misunderstood—" Hinc la- 
chrymae illae " — Dupin formed his premise for his 
conclusion, not from facts a . 

Fallacy of Names. 

Pearson, Daille, Blundellum, Erasmus, Valla, 
Westcott, Lupton, pronounce against the genuine- 
ness. Who are you? But Pearson demolishes 
Daille ; Vossius pulverises Blundellum ; Erasmus 
repudiates Valla. Dr. Westcott, following Dupin, 
assumes the non-genuineness, but his literary instinct 
places his Article on Dionysius before that on Origen. 
Dean Colet bumps the scale against Mr. Lupton. 

Pearson, in the xth Chapter of Ignatii Vindiciae, 
gives the shortest and best summary in favour of the 
genuineness. Speaking of the scholars of his own 
day, he says, " No one is so ignorant as not to know 
that these writings were recognised as genuine by the 
a Vidieu, page 107. 

204 Objections to Genuineness. 

best judges in the sixth, fifth, fourth, and third 
centuries." Unhappily, he also said, Every "eru- 
dite " person regarded them in his day as written in 
the fourth century, and he assumed the date of 
Eusebius' death, as the date of the works, to account 
for his silence. Hence every inerudite person, who 
wished to pass for erudite, maintained that opinion 
for his own reputation. But when Pearson had re- 
surveyed the evidence, he confessed, with shame, 
that though he had given, what seemed to him a true 
opinion, he left the decision of the whole matter to 
the judgment of a more learned person. 

Erasmus, in his " Institutio " of a Christian Prince, 
writes thus :— " Divus ille Dionysius qui fecit tres 
Hierarchias." In his prime work, "ratio verae reli- 
gionis," Erasmus not only enumerates the "Divine 
Names," the "Mystic and Symbolic Theology," but 
calls them, not Stoic, not Platonic, not Aristotelian, 
but "celestial" philosophy. He so moulds Dionysius 
into his book, that it becomes Dionysius writing 
elegant Latin. The only reason which outweighed 
with him all external testimony, was, that Erasmus 
could not imagine that any man, living in apostolic 
times, and so far removed from the age of Erasmus, 
could possibly have penned such a mirror of apostolic 
doctrine. How could the Areopagite, though dis- 
ciple of Paul, and familiar friend of John Theologus, 
possibly be so learned as the author of these writings? 
Such is the testimony of the two Theologians who 
have been permitted to be doubtful of the genuine- 

Objections to Genuineness. 205 

Gregory of Tours b . 
Gregory is the great authority of those who think 
that the St. Denis of France is not identical with 
Dionysius the Areopagite. The authority is worthy 
of their critical acumen. Gregory collects the more 
obscure martyrdoms, in Gaul, under Nero, and sub- 
sequent Emperors. He gives several martyrdoms 
under Nero, and thus proves the Apostolic Evangeli- 
sation of Gaul. Gregory quotes, and misquotes, and 
misunderstands the ancient document c ," Concerning d 
seven men sent by St. Peter into Gaul,— in Gallias — 
to preach." "Under Claudius — sub CLDIO— 
Peter the Apostle sent certain disciples into Gaul to 
preach, — they were, Trophimus, Paulus, Martial, 
Austremonius, Gatianus, Saturninus, Valerius, and 
many companions." — These men were sent a.d. 42 — 
43. Gregory omits Valerius, and inserts Dionysius 
—who was not converted to the Christian Faith till 
a.d. 44 or 49. Then Gregory misreads " Claudio " for 
" consulibus Decio," and adds, "Grato" as the fellow- 
consul. Thus a disciple of the Apostles, sent by 
Clement, successor of Peter, arrives in Gaul a.d. 250, 
and the identical names of his companions recur 
miraculously in the third century. At the very time 
that Trophimus e is thus supposed to have arrived at 
Aries, we have a letter from Cyprian, a.d. 254, 
urging Pope Stephen to depose Marcion, 15th or 

b L'Abbe Darras. St. Denys 1' Areopagite, p. 34- 
c Ibid., p. 51. 

d See Monuments inedits de M. Faillon, t. ii. p. 375- 
e Darras, p. 14. 

2o6 Objections to Genuineness. 

1 8th Bishop of Aries from Trophimus. Such is the 
basis upon which our critical friends build their 
house upon the sand. 

The Peres Bolandistes. 
The Peres Bolandistes are a wonder in Christen- 
dom. They are critical, and yet follow the gross 
blunder of Gregory of Tours. They belong to the 
papal obedience, and yet prefer Gregory of Tours 
when wrong, to Gregory XIII., when right. They 
pronounce the solemn declaration of Pope John 
XlXth, "that Martial of Limoges was an apostolic 
man'," as of no historic value. They think that 
St. John Damascene did not possess the same 
critical apparatus for proving the authenticity of the 
writings of Dionysius, that we possess in the xixth 
Century. Their " actes authentiques 6 " of Dionysius 
acknowledge that he was sent to Gaul by Clement, 
successor of Peter; and yet they affirm that he 
arrived in Gaul, a.d. 250. After Clement I., who 
succeeded Peter and Paul, there was not another 
Clement, Bishop of Rome, for a thousand years h . 
Happily, Les petits Bolandistes are more rational 
and critical than their Peres. 

General Objection. 
11 The style, the theological learning, the language 
and allusions, prove the writings written after the 
apostolic age." 

1 See Surius. * Darras, 293—300. 

h Clement I., a.d. 67, CI. II. 1046. 

Objections to Genuineness. 207 

Is the Epistolary style the proof? St. Paul, 
St. John, St. Peter, St. Luke, and nearly the whole 
of the New Testament is written under the form 
of Epistles. The Epistle of St. James,— the first 
written in the Canon of the New Testament, — will 
bear comparison with the book of Job for ornate 
diction. Consult the marginal references to the 
Epistle of St. Peter, to see the scriptural knowledge 
of the Apostles. Men use the testimony of the 
High Priests, that the Apostles were unlearned and 
ignorant men, but omit their testimony that they 
took knowledge of them, that they had been with 
Jesus ; and the further testimony, that Jesus opened 
their understanding, that they should understand 
the testimony of the Scriptures, respecting Himself; 
and further, that the Holy Spirit should recall to 
them whatever He had said to them. Those who 
would rather assume twenty miracles, than acknow- 
ledge one natural fact, surmise, that a Syrian, in 
the ivth century, may have written Greek permeated 
with technical expressions of Plato and Aristotle. 
There is not a single allusion to persons or events 
after the first century, unless it be supposed that 
the Epistle of Ignatius, a.d. 108, is quoted. The 
works abound in names recorded in the New Testa- 
ment. The Apostolic Epistles allude to the leaven 
of heresy already working. The Antwerp edition 
gives about five hundred references to Holy Scripture 
in the Writings of Dionysius. He quotes every book 
in the Bible, except the two last particular Epistles 
of St. John, or John Presbyter. Dionysius writes 


Objections to Genuineness. 

four letters to Gaius, to whom St. John wrote his 
third Epistle. We have, therefore, in the writings 
of this Apostolic man, a proof that the Canonical 
Scriptures were quoted as the Oracles of God, in 
the first century, and a triumphant testimony that 
Faith is more trustworthy than criticism. 

Thanks be to God ! 

©trjcr Mtorks brr same JUtrjnr. 





printea b^ 3amea parfcer ani> Co., Crown Hart>, ©rfort. 




TriE ecclesiastical hierarchy. 




Author -of " Christianity Chronologically Confirmed," &c. 

Sames $arfter an* Co. 





Alexandrine School . , 

On the Heavenly Hierarchy 
On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy . 
Appendix i— 

Lists of Bishops , 

Apostolic Traditions generally in 
abeyance ..... 












1st. "The doctrine of the Lord, through the Twelve 
Apostles, to the Gentiles." Spence, Nisbet. 

2nd. " The Apostolic Constitutions." Lagarde. Williams 
and Norgate, 1862. 

3rd. " Coptic Constitutions." Lagarde. Tattam, 1845. 

4th. Justin Martyr — for Liturgy. 

5th. Hippolitus, " Refutation of all heresies." Duncker. 
Gottingen, 1859. 

6th. Hierocles on "Golden Verses" of Pythagoras. 
Roger Daniel. London, 1654. 

7th. "Ecclesiastical History (in Greek) from establish- 
ment of the Church to our own time*" By 
Professor Kyriakos. Athens, 1898. 

8th. "St. Denys, l'Areopagite, premier Eveque de 
Paris." Darras, 1863. Vives, Paris. 

9th. Gale's " Court of the Gentiles." Hall, Oxon, 1672. 

10th. Dexter's Chronicle. Migne, T. 31. 

nth. Monuments inedits. Faillon. 



ALEXANDRIA became the home of Christian 
Philosophy, but Athens was its birthplace. Pan- 
taenus and Ammonius-Saccus were chief founders 
of the Alexandrine School. They were both Chris- 
tian. They both drew their teaching from the Word 
of God, " the Fountain of Wisdom," and from the 
writings of Hierotheus, and Dionysius the Areopa- 
gite — Bishops of Athens. For several centuries there 
had been a Greek preparation for the Alexandrine 
School. As the Old Testament was a Schoolmaster, 
leading to Christ, so the Septuagint, Pythagoras, 
Plato, Aristobulus, Philo, and Apollos were heralds 
who prepared the minds of men for that fulness of 
light and truth in Jesus Christ, which, in Alexandria, 
clothed itself in the bright robes of Divine Philo- 

Pantaenus was born in Athens, a.d. 120, and died 
in Alexandria, a.d. 213. He was Greek by nation- 
ality, and Presbyter of the Church in Alexandria by 
vocation. First, Stoic, then Pythagorean, he became 
Christian some time before a.d. 186, at which date 
he was appointed chief instructor in the Didaskeleion, 

vi Dionysius the Areopagite 

by Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria. Pantaenus 
recognised the preparation for the Christian Faith 
in the Greek Philosophy. Anastasius-Sinaita describes 
him as " one of the early expositors who agreed with 
each other in treating the first six days of Creation 
as prophetic of Christ and the whole Church." 

Eusebius says, that Pantaenus expounded the 
treasures of the Divine dogmas preserved direct, 
as from father to son, from St. Paul and other 
Apostles. Photius records that Pantaenus was pupil 
of those who had seen the Apostles, but that he 
certainly had not listened to any of them themr 
selves. Now, if Pantaenus was pupil of those who 
had seen the Apostles, and yet had not listened 
to their oral teaching, it is natural to infer that he 
was pupil through their writings. I am a pupil of 
Dr. Pusey, but I never listened to his oral teach- 
ing ; I am pupil through his writings. Now, there 
exist, to this day, the writings of two Presbyters who 
had seen the Apostles — both converts to the faith 
through St. Paul, — whose writings contain the trea- 
sures of the Divine dogmas, received from St. Paul 
and the other Apostles. Those two Presbyters are 
Hierotheus and Dionysius the Areopagite, both or- 
dained Bishop of Athens by St. Paul. Dionysius 
the Areopagite expressly calls St. Paul his " chief 
initiator," and as such, gives his teaching on the 
holy Angels, in the sixth chapter of the Heavenly 
Hierarchy ; and frequently describes St. Paul as his 
" chief instructor." 

If, then, we can prove that the writings of Diony^ 

and the Alexandrine School vii 

sius existed before, and were known in Alexandria, 
when Pantaenus delivered his lectures in that city> 
we may fairly infer that Pantaenus would know> and 
knowing, would use, the writings penned by the 
Chief of his own Areopagus, and Bishop of his own 

Historical criticism does not permit us to reject 
probabilities, merely because they confirm the Chris- 
tian Faith. 

Dexter, in his Chronicle, collected from the 
Archives of Toledo and other churches in Spain, 
gives this testimony : — 

" U.C. 851 (a.d. 98). Dionysius Areopagita dicat 
Eugenio Marcello, dicto, propter ingenii excellen- 
tiam, Timotheo, libros de Divinis Notninibus." 

Dionysius of Alexandria, writing to Pope Sixtus II., 
c. 250, respecting the writings of Dionysius the 
Areopagite, affirms "that no one can intelligently 
dispute their paternity — that no one penetrated more 
profoundly than Dionysius into the mysterious depths 
of Holy Scripture — that Dionysius was disciple ot 
St. Paul, and piously governed the Church of 
Athens." If, then, the Bishops of Alexandria and 
Rome exchanged letters only a few years after the 
death of Pantaenus, and only seven years after the 
death of Ammonius, and in those letters affirmed 
the writings to be undoubtedly written by Dionysius 
the Areopagite, it would be the height of absurdity 
to affirm that such writings were unknown to Pan- 
taenus and Ammonius. 

But we do not need to base our proof on mere 

viii Dionysius the Areopagite 

supposition. Routh gives two fragments of Pan- 
taenus. The second is a distinct echo of Dionysius. 
In Divine Names (c. 7), Dionysius discusses how 
Almighty God knows existing things, and explains 
the text ; "/fe, knowing all things before their birth" 
as proving that " not as learning existing things 
from existing things, but from Himself, and in Him- 
self, as Cause, the Divine Being pre-holds and pre- 
comprehends the notions and essence of all things, 
not approaching each several thing according to its 
kind, but knowing and containing ail things within 
one grasp of the cause. Thus Almighty God knows 
existing things, not by a knowledge of existing things, 
but by that of Himself." Dionysius, c. V. s. 8, 
speaking of creation, declares that the Divine and 
good volitions of Almighty God define and produce 
existing things. 

Pantaenus teaches the same : " Neither does He 
know things sensible sensibly (ala-BrjTas), nor things 
intelligible intellectually. For it is not possible that 
He, Who is above all things, should comprehend 
things being, after things being (kotu to. ovto), but we 
affirm that He knows things being, as His own 
volitions .... yea, as His own volitions, Almighty 
God knows things being, since by willing (OtXvv), 
He made all things being." 

In Mystic Theology, c. V., Dionysius says, " Al- 
mighty God does not know existing things, qua exist- 
ing." The teaching of Ammonius-Saccus is the same ; 
Ammonius uses the word PoCXrjpa, Dionysius and 
Pantaenus, BeX^ra, of God, as Source of Creation. 

and the Alexandrine School. ix 

But, though the known fragments of Pantaenus are 
few, we possess abundant writings of two pupils,, 
Clement of Alexandria and Origen, from which we 
may gather the teaching of their master. Clement 
speaks of Pantaenus as his "great instructor and 
collaborator." Such is the similarity between the 
writings of Clement and Dionysius, that some have 
hazarded the conjecture that Clement the Philosopher, 
mentioned by Dionysius, was Clement of Alexandria ! 
I give only one familiar illustration. Clement writes : 
"As then, those riding at anchor at sea, drag the 
anchor, but do not drag it to themselves, but them- 
selves to the anchor, thus those who are drawn to 
God in the gnostic life, find themselves unconsciously 
led to God." Dionysius, D. N., c. III. s. i, says, 
" or, as if after we have embarked on ship, and are 
holding on to the cable, attached to some rock, we 
do not draw the rock to us, but ourselves, and the 
ship, to the rock. Wherefore, before everything, and 
especially theology, we must begin with prayer ; not 
as though we ourselves were drawing the power, 
which is everywhere, and nowhere present, but as, 
by our godly reminiscences and invocations, con- 
ducting ourselves to, a.nd making ourselves one with 

Origen confessed that Pantaenus was his superior 
in the philosophy of the schools, and that he moulded 
his teaching upon the model of Pantaenus. Do the 
writings of Origen bear the stamp of Dionysius and 
Hierotheus? Origen, on the resurrection of the 
body, says,. " For how doe? it npt seem absurd 

x Dionysins the Areopagite 

that this body which has endured scars for Christ, 
and, equally with the soul, has borne the savage 
torments of persecutions, and has also endured the 
suffering of chains, and rods, and has been tortured 
with fire, beaten with the sword, and has further 
suffered the cruel teeth of wild beasts, the gallows 
of the cross, and divers kinds of punishments,— that 
this should be deprived of the prizes of such contests. 
If forsooth, the soul alone, which not alone conten- 
ded, should receive the crown, and its companion 
the body, which served it with much labour, should 
attain no recompense, for its agony and victory, — 
how does it not seem contrary to all reason, that 
the flesh, resisting for Christ its natural vices, and 
its innate lust, and guarding its virginity with im- 
mense labour,— that one, when the time for rewards 
has come, should be rejected as unworthy and the 
other should receive its crown ? Such a fact would 
undoubtedly argue on the part of God, either a lack 
of justice or a lack of power." Dionysius (E. H., 
c. VII.) says, "Now the pure bodies of the holy 
souls, enrolled together as yoke-fellows, and fellow 
travellers, which together strove during the divine 
contests, throughout the Divine Life, in the unmoved 
steadfastness of the souls, will together receive their 
own resurrection. For, having been made one with 
the holy souls, to which they were united during this 
present life, by having become members of Christ, 
they will receive in return the godlike and incor- 
ruptible immortality and blessed inheritance." Dio- 
nysius (D. N., c. VI. s. 2) says, " what is still more 

and the Alexandrine School. xi 

divine, It promises to transfer our whole selves 
(I mean souls and bodies, their yoke-fellows), to 
a perfect life and immortality. Others again do 
this injustice to bodies, that, after having toiled 
with the holy souls, they unjustly deprive them of 
the holy retributions, when they have come to the 
goal of their most divine course." " For if the man 
have passed a life dear to God in soul and body, 
the body which has contended throughout the Divine 
struggles will be honoured together with the devout 

To shew that Origen knew the works of Hiero- 
theus, we give an extract from his letter to Gregory : 
" Would that you might both participate in and 
continually augment this part, so that you may 
not only say, ' we are partakers of Christ,' but also 
partakers of God." Papias a , Bishop of Hierapolis 
(fragment V.) says, "the Presbyters, the disciples 
of the Apostles, say that this is the gradation and 
method of those who are saved, and that they 
advance through steps of this nature, and that, 
moreover, they ascend through the Spirit to the 
Son, and through the Son to the Father ; and that, 
in due time, the Son will yield up His work to the 
Father." Who the Presbyters, the disciples of the 
Apostles were, we may gather from the three last 
chapters of the " Book of Hierotheus b ," in which 
the very same doctrine is taught. Is it not, then, 
a legitimate inference, that when Photius says " that 

a c. 140. b Br. Mus. (Ad. Rich. 7189). 

xii Dionysius the Areopagite 

Pantaenus was a pupil of the Presbyters who had seen 
the Apostles" he designated Hierotheus and Dionysius 
the Areopagite, generally known under that title ? 

Ammonius-Saccus was born of Christian parents 
in Alexandria, and died in that city, a.d. 242. 

Anastasius Sinaita calls him "the Wise," and 
Hierocles, "the taught of God." Besides being 
famous for his expositions of Holy Scripture, he 
wrote the " Diatesseron," or "Harmony of the 
Gospels," contained in the Bib. Patrum. In a.d. 
236, he wrote the agreement between Moses and 
Jesus. He was the great conciliator, who sought 
the good in every system, and to make all one in 
Christ. Pressense beautifully describes him as a man 
who wished to believe and to know — to adore and to 
comprehend— to conciliate the Greek Philosophy with 
the Mysteries of the East. He wrote a commentary 
on the golden verses of Pythagoras, which Hierocles 
published, as well as reproduced his other works. 
The titles of his books, mentioned by Photius, such 
as "Providence" and "Free Will," recall those of 
the lost books of Dionysius, of which we have only 
a summary in his known works. (Cod. 251 — 214.) 

Ammonius was surnamed Saccus from having 
been a corn carrier. Virgil, Shakespere, Milton, 
were great geniuses in themselves, but when we 
know the sources from which they drew, we can 
better understand their achievements. 

Dionysius was indebted to Hierotheus— Ammonius 

and the Alexandrine School. xiii 

drew from Dionysius. This we shall shew, not as 
we might, by his works as described by Photius, but 
from Plotinus, his disciple, in order that we may 
have the prevailing proof, to some minds, of testi- 
mony not necessarily Christian. 

Plotinus was born in Lycopolis, a.d. 205, and died 
in Campagna, a.d. 270. At the age of 29, he began 
to search for truth, in the schools of Alexandria. 
He wandered from teacher to teacher, but could 
find no rest until he was persuaded to go and hear 
Ammonius-Saccus. After listening to him, he ex- 
claimed, " This is what I sought." 

Plotinus remained under him eleven years, until 
the death of Ammonius, a.d. 242. In a.d. 244, 
Plotinus began to teach in Rome. Plotinus was not 
a refined scholar. Porphyry, therefore, committed 
his teaching to writing. Porphyry was regarded as 
the greatest enemy to the Christian Faith in the 
early centuries. Persecutors burned the bodies of 
Christians, but Porphyry sought to undermine their 
faith in the Holy Scriptures, by quibbles of unbelief, 
which have been revived to-day as "New Criticism." 
Porphyry wrote against the Holy Scriptures with 
a bitterness engendered by a conviction of their 
truth. Now, it is a startling fact, that though the 
teaching of Plotinus comes to us through Porphyry, 
there is not a word in the Enneades, in which the 
teaching of Plotinus is given, against the Christian 
Faith. It is true that Eutochius published another 
version of the teaching of Plotinus, on the ground 
that his teaching was coloured by Porphyry, but we 

xiv Dionysius the Areopagite 

prefer to rest our proof on Porphyry, as not being 
prejudiced in favour of the truth. 

Let us then first see what Plotinus teaches re- 
specting the Holy Trinity. He says, "We need 
not go beyond the three Hypostaseis " (Persons). It 
is true that Plotinus presents that Trinity as "One," 
"Mind," and "Soul," whereas Dionysius gives the 
formula " Father, Son, and Spirit." Occasionally 
Plotinus uses " Logos " instead of " Mind." But 
even this substitution of "One" for "Father" may 
be traced to Dionysius, who speaks of the Triad, 
evapxiKrj and even ivapxLK&v vTroaTaafav, " One spring- 
ing." The " One " represents the Father. Plotinus 
says, " We may represent the first principle, ' One,' 
as source, which has no other origin than Itself, and 
which pours Itself in a multitude of streams without 
being diminished by what it gives." Dionysius speaks 
of the " Father " as sole source of Godhead, and 
says that " the Godhead is undiminished by the gifts 
imparted." In Chap. XII. of Divine Names, Dio- 
nysius treats of " One " and " Perfect " as applied 
to Almighty God. 

Let us now hear Plotinus on the " Beautiful " 
Enneades (I. 6-7). Plotinus says, "The soul ad- 
vances in its ascent towards God, until being raised 
above everything alien, it sees face to face, in His 
simplicity, and in all His purity, Him upon Whom 
all hangs, to Whom all aspire, from Whom all hold 
existence, life and thought. What transport of love 
must not he feel who sees Him ! with what ardour 
ought he not to desire to be united to Him ! He, 

and the Alexandrine School. xv 

who has not seen Him, desires Him as the Good ; 
he who has seen Him, admires Him as the sovereign 
Beauty ; and struck at once with astonishment and 
pleasure, disdains the things which heretofore he 
called by the name of Beauty. This is what 
happens to those to whom have appeared the 
forms of gods and demons ; — they no longer care 
for the beauty of other bodies. What think you, 
then, should he experience who has seen the 
Beautiful Himself, — the Beautiful surpassing earth 
and heaven ! The miserable is not he, who has 
neither fresh colour nor comely form, nor power, 
nor royalty ; it is alone he, who sees himself ex- 
cluded from the possession of Beauty— a possession 
in comparison with which he ought to disdain 
royalty, rule of the whole earth, of the sea, and 
heaven itself, if he should be able, by abandoning, 
by despising all these, to rise to the contemplation 
of the Beautiful, face to face." Plotinus also re- 
cognised, " that the eye soiled with impurity could 
never bear the sight, or attain to the vision of that 
Beauty. We must render the organs of vision 
analogous and like to the object that they would 
contemplate. Every man ought to begin by ren- 
dering himself beautiful and divine to obtain a vision 
of the Beautiful and the Deity." Well might St. 
Augustine say, that "with the change of a few 
words, Plotinus became concordant with Christ's 
religion." No wonder that Gregory and Basil quoted 
so largely from Plotinus. Let us now hear what 
Dionysius says of the "Good and Beautiful": — 

xvi Doinysius the Areopagite 

"Goodness turns all things to Itself; all things 
aspire to It, as source and bond and end. From 
this Beautiful comes being to all existing things. 
All things aspire to the Beautiful and Good,— and 
there is no existing thing which does not partici- 
pate in the Beautiful and Good." Read the Fourth 
Chapter of the Divine Names. 

Porphyry records that Plotinus attained to that 
vision of the Beautiful three times during his life. 
How that vision of the Beautiful is to be attained, 
Dionysius describes in the " Mystic Theology : "— 
"But thou, O dear Timothy, by thy persistent com- 
merce with the mystic visions, leave behind both 
sensible perceptions and intellectual efforts, and all 
objects of sense and intelligence, and all things not 
being and being, and be raised aloft agnostically to 
the union, as attainable, with Him Who is above 
every essence and knowledge. For by unchecked 
and absolute extasy, in all purity, from thyself, and 
all, thou wilt be carried on high to the superessential 
Ray of the Divine Darkness, when thou hast cast 
away all and become free from all." Ammonius had 
such extasy during his lectures, in which he seemed 
to have Divine visions. 

Plotinus differs from Dionysius in regarding crea- 
tion as an act of necessity, whereas Dionysius regards 
it as an act of love. Plotinus treats evil as "an 
elongation from God." Dionysius speaks of Al- 
mighty God as immanent in matter the most 
elongated from spirit. Plotinus traces evil to matter; 
Dionysius to the fallacious choice of a free agent. 

and the Alexandrine School. xvii 

May it not be that the pagan colouring of Porphyry 
in these respects led Eutochius to give a more 
faithful and consistent account of the teaching of 

But the crowning proof that Dionysius was the 
source from which the Alexandrine School drew 
much of its wisdom, is Proclus (450 — 485). Suidas 
affirmed long ago that Proclus cribbed whole pas- 
sages from Dionysius. Professor Stiglmayr fills seven 
pages with parallel passages. 

. Vacherot describes certain chapters of the "Divine 
Names " as extracts from Proclus, word for word, 
and says the whole doctrine of Dionysius seems to 
be a commentary upon the Theology of Alexandria. 
Barthe'lemy St. Hilaire says that Dionysius and 
Scotus Erigena, almost entirely implanted, in the 
middle age, the doctrine of Neo-Platonism. Matter 
is more profound; Professor Langen finds in Diony- 
sius the "characteristics of Neo-Platonic speculation." 
The similarity of doctrine is denied by none. Which 
writings appeared first ? that is the question. 

Dexter commemorates the " Divine Names " 
a.d. 98°. 

Polycarp quotes Dionysius verbatim as " a certain 
one." Jerome quotes him as " quidam Graeco- 
rum." Dionysius of Alexandria (a.d. 250), writing 
to Sixtus II., declares that no one can intelligently 
doubt that the writings are those of Dionysius, the 
convert of St. Paul, Bishop of Athens. 

c From Tabularia of Toledo, a.d. 98. 

xviii Diony sius the Areopagite 

Tertullian expresses the Agnosia "nihil scire 
omnia scire." Origen quotes him by name. Theo- 
dore (a.d. 420) answers objections, — whom Photius 
approved. Gregory calls Dionysius "an ancient and 
venerable Father." The Second Council of Nicea 
quotes the very words contained in the "Eccle- 
siastical Hierarchy," c. I. s. 4, as those of the great 
Dionysius. Bishop Pearson proves that the best 
judges in the sixth, fifth, fourth and third centuries 
regarded the writings as written by Dionysius the 
Areopagite. German scholars to-day admit that the 
external testimony is in favour of their genuineness. 

Yet eccentric critics, on account of the precise 
theology, cannot believe that the works were written 
by a learned Greek, — Chief of the Areopagus— who 
forsook all to follow Christ, — the convert and dis- 
ciple of St. Paul, — the familiar friend of St. John 
and other Apostles, to whom our Saviour revealed 
the mysteries of the Father ; but those critics can 
believe that an unknown man, whose century no one 
can fix, and possibly a Syrian, may have gleaned 
from writers of the first four centuries these theo- 
logical pearls expressed in Greek in a style unique 
and always .like itself. They can believe that the 
Author of these Divine writings would incorporate 
fictitious allusions to persons and events of the 
apostolic age, to add lustre to incomparable works, 
and to impute them to another. They can believe 
that writings, so composed) were foisted upon a 
credulous Christendom, so that Dionysius of Alex- 
andria, Maximus, St. John Damascene^ and the 

and the Alexandrine School. xix 

Council of Nicea, accepted them as the genuine 
works of Dionysius. I do not belong to that school. 
Only unbelief could believe anything so incredible. 
Rational men will not hazard the surmise that works 
known in the first century were gleaned from writings 
composed four hundred years afterwards. 

The tone of the Alexandrine School may be 
further illustrated from Amelius and Dionysius the 
Sublime. Amelius attended Plotinus twenty-four 
years as companion and pupil. Eusebius gives an 
extract from his writings, in which Amelius says, 
" This plainly was the Word, by Whom, being Eter- 
nal, things becoming became, as Heraclitus would 
say." It was probably he who said, " the Prologue 
of St. John's Gospel ought to be written in gold, 
and placed in the most conspicuous place in every 
church." De Civ. Dei, LX. c. 29. Dionysius, the 
famous secretary of Zenobia, attended the lectures 
of Arnmonius-Saccus. He was the "arbiter" of all 
literary questions. He expresses his admiration, 
De sub. L. 9, of the diction of Moses in the de- 
scription of the six days' creation, and numbers 
St. Paul amongst the most brilliant Greek orators, 
as a man who propounded a "dogma beyond demon- 

We claim that the testimony of these illustrious 
men, and the extracts from Pantaenus, Ammonius, 
and their disciples, justify the conclusion that the 
Alexandrine School was Biblical, Christian, and 
Philosophical, that its Philosophy was a Divine 

xx Dionysius the Areopagite, C°r>c. 

Philosophy of the Faith, not a pagan philosophy 
against the Faith, and that the main sources of its 
Divine Philosophy were the writings of Hierotheus 
and Dionysius, Bishops of Athens. 

Epiphany, 1899. 

For sketch of Life, Internal Evidence of date, and External 
Testimony to genuineness during first nine centuries, see 
" Celestial and Ecclesiastical Hierarchy." (Skeffington, 
2s. 6<f.) 





To my Fellow Presbyter Timothy a . 

Dionysius the Presbyter. 

That every divine illumination, whilst going forth 
lovingly to the objects of its forethought under 
various forms, remains si?nplex. Nor is this all. 
It also unifies the things illuminated. 

Section I. 

" Every good gift b and every perfect gift Is from 
above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights." 

Further also, every procession of illuminating light, 

proceeding from the Father, whilst visiting us as a 

gift of goodness, restores us again gradually as an 

unifying power, and turns us to the oneness of our 

conducting Father, and to a deifying simplicity. For c 

all things are from Him, and to Him, as said the 

Sacred Word. 

Section II. 

Invoking then Jesus, the Paternal Light, the Real, 
the True, "which lighteth d every man coming into 

* I Pet v. I. b James i. 17. c Rom. xi. 36. 

d John i. 9 


2 Dionysius the Areopagite 

the world," " through e Whom we have access to the 
Father," Source of Light, let us aspire, as far as is 
attainable, to the illuminations handed down by our 
fathers in the most sacred Oracles, and let us gaze, 
as we may, upon the Hierarchies of the Heavenly 
Minds manifested by them symbolically for our in- 
struction. And when we have received, with im- 
material and unflinching mental f eyes, the gift of 
Light, primal and super-primal, of the supremely Di- 
vine Father, which manifests to us the most blessed 
Hierarchies of the Angels in types and symbols, let 
us then, from it, be elevated to its simple splendour?. 
For it never loses its own unique inwardness, but 
multiplied and going forth, as becomes its goodness, 
for an elevating and unifying blending of the objects 
of its care, remains firmly and solitarily centred within 
itself in its unmoved sameness ; and raises, accord- 
ing to their capacity, those who lawfully aspire to it, 
and makes them one, after the example of its own 
unifying Oneness. For it is not possible that the 
supremely Divine Ray should otherwise illuminate 
us, except so far as it is enveloped, for the purpose of** 
instruction, in variegated sacred veils, and arranged 
naturally and appropriately, for such as we are, by 
paternal forethought. 

Section III. 
Wherefore, the Divine Institution of sacred Rites, 
having deemed it worthy of the supermundane imi- 

« Rom. v. 2. f Syr. Doc. p. 61, Clark. 

* Plato Rep. 6, 7— II, 1 2 1— 126. Read Allegory of Cave. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 3 

tation of the Heavenly Hierarchies, and having de- 
picted the aforesaid immaterial Hierarchies in ma- 
terial figures and bodily compositions, in order that 
we might be borne, as far as our capacity permits, 
from the most sacred pictures to the instructions 
and similitudes without symbol and without type, 
transmitted to us our most Holy Hierarchy. For \ 
it is not possible for our mind to be raised to that 
immaterial representation and contemplation of the 
Heavenly Hierarchies, without using the material 
guidance suitable to itself, accounting the visible 11 
beauties as reflections of the invisible comeliness/' 
and the sweet 1 odours of the senses as emblems of 
the spiritual distribution; and the material k lights 
as a likeness of the gift of the immaterial enlighten- 
ment ; and the detailed sacred instructions l , of the 
feast of contemplation within the mind j and the 
ranks m of the orders here, of the harmonious and 
regulated habit, with regard to Divine things; and 
the reception of the most Divine Eucharist, of the 
partaking of Jesus, and whatever other things were 
transmitted to Heavenly Beings supermundanely, but 
to us symbolically. 

For the sake, then, of this our proportioned deifi- 
cation, the philanthropic Source of sacred mysteries, 
by manifesting the Heavenly Hierarchies to us, 
and constituting our Hierarchy as fellow-ministers 
with them, through our imitation of their Godlike 

t p s . xix. ' Num. xv. 3. k Luke ii. 9. 

1 John vii. 14. m Rom. xiii. I, 2, ■ I Cor. x. 16. 

4 Dionysius the Areopagite 

priestliness , so far as in us lies, described under 
sensible likeness the supercelestial Minds, in the 
inspired compositions of the Oracles, in order that 
It might lead us through the sensible to the intel- 
ligible p , and from inspired symbols to the simple {- 
sublimities of the Heavenly Hierarchies. 


That Divine and Heavenly things are appropriately 
revealed, even through dissimilar symbols. 

Section I. 
It is necessary then, as I think, first to set forth 
what we think is the purpose of every Hierarchy, 
and what benefit each one confers upon its followers; 
and next to celebrate the Heavenly Hierarchies ac- 
cording to their revelation in the Oracles ; then fol- 
lowing these Oracles, to say in what sacred forms 
the holy writings of the Oracles depict the celestial 
orders, and to what sort of simplicity we must be 
carried through the representations ; in order that we 
also may not, like the vulgar, irreverently think that 
the heavenly and Godlike minds are certain many- 
footed * and many-faced r creatures, or moulded to 
the brutishness of oxen 8 , or the savage form of lions \ 
and fashioned like the hooked beaks of eagles u , or 
the feathery down of birds 1 , and should imagine that 
there are certain wheels J of fire above the heaven, 

° i Pet ii. 9. p „oVo. * Ezek. i. 7. • Ibid. i. 6. 

• Ibid. i. 10. * Ibid. » Ibid. * Ibid. i. 6-8. 

y Dan. vii. 9. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. r 

or material thrones 2 upon which the Godhead may 
recline, or certain many-coloured a horses, and spear- 
bearing leaders of the host b , and whatever else was 
transmitted by the Oracles to us under multifarious 
symbols of sacred imagery. 

And indeed, the Word of God e artlessly makes 
use of poetic representations of sacred things, re- 
specting the shapeless minds, out of regard to' our 
intelligence, so to speak, consulting a mode of edu- 
cation proper and natural to it, and moulding the 
inspired writings for it. 

Section II. 
But if any one think well to accept the sacred com- 
positions as of things simple and unknown in their 
own nature, and beyond our contemplation, but 
thinks the imagery of the holy minds in the Oracles 
is incongruous, and that all this is, so to speak, a 
•rude scenic representation of the angelic names; 
and further says that the theologians ought, when 
they have come to the bodily representation of crea-' 
tures altogether without body, to represent and dis- ; 
play them by appropriate and, as far as possible, 
cognate figures, taken, at any rate, from our most 
honoured and immaterial and exalted beings, and 
ought not to clothe the heavenly and Godlike simple 
essences with the many forms of the lowest creatures 
to be found on the earth (for the one would perhaps 
be more adapted to our instruction, and would not 

* Dan. vii. 9. • Zech. i. 8. b j oshua v# ^ ^ . 

2 Mace. iii. 25. « QeoXoyia. 

6 Dionysius the Areopagite 

degrade the celestial explanations to incongruous 
dissimilitudes; but the other both does violence 
without authority to the Divine powers, and likewise 
leads astray our minds, through dwelling upon these 
irreverent descriptions) ; and perhaps he will also 
think that the super-heavenly places are filled with 
certain herds of lions, and troops of horses, and bel- 
lowing songs of praise, and flocks of birds, and other 
living creatures, and material and less honourable 
things, and whatever else the similitudes of the 
1/ Oracles, in every respect dissimilar, describe, for 
a so-called explanation, but which verge towards the 
absurd, and pernicious, and impassioned; now, in my 
opinion, the investigation of the truth demonstrates 
the most sacred wisdom of the Oracles, in the de- 
scriptions of the Heavenly Minds, taking forethought, 
as that wisdom does, wholly for each, so as neither, 
as one may say, to do violence to the Divine Powers, 
nor at the same time to enthral us in the grovelling 
passions of the debased imagery. For any one might 
say that the cause why forms are naturally attributed 
to the formless, and shapes to the shapeless, is not 
alone our capacity which is unable immediately to 
elevate itself to the intelligible contemplations, and 
that it needs appropriate and cognate instructions 
which present images, suitable to us, of the formless 
and supernatural objects of contemplation ; but fur- 
ther, that it is most agreeable to the revealing Oracles 
to conceal, through mystical and sacred enigmas, 
and to keep the holy and secret truth respecting the 
supermundane minds inaccessible to the multitude. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 7 

For it is not every one that is holy, nor, as the Ora- 
cles affirm, does knowledge belong to all d . 

Section III. 

But if any one should blame the descriptions as 
being incongruous, by saying that it is shameful to 
attribute shapes so repugnant to the Godlike and 
most holy Orders, it is enough to reply that the 
method of Divine revelation is twofold ; one, in- 
deed, as is natural, proceeding through likenesses 
that are similar, and of a sacred character, but the 
other, through dissimilar forms, fashioning them into 
entire unlikeness and incongruity. No doubt, the 
mystical traditions of the revealing Oracles some- 
times extol the august Blessedness of the super- 
essential Godhead, as Word e , and Mind f , and Es- 
sence g , manifesting its God-becoming expression and 
wisdom, both as really being Origin, and true Cause 
of the origin of things being, and they describe It as 
light h , and call it life. While such sacred descrip- 
tions are more reverent, and seem in a certain way 
to be superior to the material images, they yet, even 
thus, in reality fall short of the supremely Divine simili- 
tude. For It is above every essence and life. No light, 
indeed, expresses its character, and every description 
and mind incomparably fall short of Its similitude. 

But at other times its praises are supermundanely 
sung, by the Oracles themselves, through dissimilar 
revelations, when they affirm that it is invisible 1 , and 

-' i Cor. viii. 7. e John i. I. f Ps. cxxxvi. 5. 

s Exod. iii. 14. h John i. 4. l I Tim. vi. 16. 


8 Dionysius the Areopagite 

infinite 1 , and incomprehensible '; and when there is 
signified, not what it is, but what it is not. For this, 
as I think, is more appropriate to It, since, as the 
secret and sacerdotal tradition taught, we rightly de- 
scribe its non-relationship to things created, but we 
do not know its superessential, and inconceivable, 
and unutterable indefinability. If, then, the nega- 
tions respecting things Divine are true, but t he afTlr - 
mations are inharmonious, the revelation as regards 
things invisible, through dissimilar representations, is 
more appropriate to the hiddenness of things unutter- 
able. Thus the sacred descriptions of the Oracles 
'honour, and do not expose to shame, the Heavenly 
Orders, when they make them known by dissimilar 
pictorial forms, and demonstrate through these their 
supermundane superiority over all material things. 
And I do not suppose that any sensible man will 
gainsay that the incongruous elevate our mind more 
than the similitudes ; for there is a likelihood, with 
regard to the more sublime representations of heaven- 
ly things, that we should be led astray, so as to think 
that the Heavenly Beings are certain creatures with 
the appearance of gold, and certain men with the 
appearance of light" 1 , and glittering like lightning", 
handsome °, clothed in bright shining raiment, shed- 
ding forth innocuous flame, and so with regard to all 
the other shapes and appropriate forms, with which 
the Word of God has depicted the Heavenly Minds. 
In order that men might not suffer from this, by 

k Ps. cxlv. 13. 1 Rom. x i. 33 . ; j er . h. , s . 

■ Acts i. 10. » Matt, xxviii. 3. • Acts vi. 15. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. g 

thinking they are nothing more exalted than their beau- 
tiful appearance, the elevating wisdom of the pious 
theologians reverently conducts to the incongruous 
dissimilarities, not permitting our earthly part to rest 
fixed in the base images, but urging the upward 
tendency of the soul, and goading it by the unseem- 
liness of the phrases (to see) that it belongs neither 
to lawful nor seeming truth, even for the most 
earthly conceptions, that the most heavenly and 
Divine visions are actually like things so base. 
Further also this must particularly be borne in mind, 
that not even one of the things existing is altogether 
deprived of participation in the beautiful, since, as 
is evident and the truth of the Oracles affirms, all 
things are very beautiful p. 

Section IV. 
It is, then, possible to frame in one's mind good 
contemplations from everything, and to depict, from 
things material, the aforesaid dissimilar similitudes, 
both for the intelligible and the intelligent; since 
the intelligent hold in a different fashion things 
which are attributed to things sensible differently. 
For instance, appetite, in the irrational creatures, takes 
its rise in the passions, and their movement, which 
takes the form of appetite,, is full of all kinds of 
unreasonableness. But with regard to the intelli- 
gent, we must think of the appetite in another 
fashion, as denoting, according to my judgment, 
their manly style, and their determined persistence. 
p Gen. i. 31. 

io Dionysius the Areopagitc 

in their Godlike and unchangeable steadfastness. 
In like manner we say, with regard to the irrational 
creatures, that lust is a certain uncircumspect and 
earthly passionate attachment, arising incontinently 
from an innate movement, or intimacy in things 
subject to change, and the irrational supremacy of 
the bodily desire, which drives the whole organism 
towards the object of sensual inclination. But when 
we attribute "lust" to spiritual beings, by clothing 
them with dissimilar similitudes, we must think that 
it is a Divine love of the immaterial, above ex- 
pression and thought, and the inflexible and deter- 
mined longing for the supernally pure and passionless 
contemplation, and for the really perpetual and 
intelligible fellowship in that pure and most exalted 
splendour, and in the abiding and beautifying come- 
liness. And 'incontinence' we may take for the 
persistent and inflexible, which nothing can repulse, 
on account of the pure and changeless love for the 
Divine beauty, and the whole tendency towards the 
really desired. But with regard to the irrational 
living beings, or soulless matter, we appropriately 
call their irrationality and want of sensible percep- 
tion a deprivation of reason and sensible perception. 
And with regard to the immaterial and intelligent 
beings, we reverently acknowledge their superiority, 
as supermundane beings, over our discursive and 
bodily reason, and the material perception of the 
senses which is alien to the incorporeal Minds. It 
is, then, permissible to depict forms, which are not 
discordant, to the celestial beings, even from por- 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 1 1 

tions of matter which are the least honourable, since 
even it, having had its beginning from the Essentially 
Beautiful, has throughout the whole range of matter 
some echoes of the intellectual comeliness; and it 
is possible through these to be led to the imma- 
terial archetypes — things most similar being taken, 
as has been said, dissimilarly, and the identities being 
defined, not in the same way, but harmoniously, and 
appropriately, as regards the intellectual and sensible 

Section V. 

We shall find the Mystic Theologians enfolding 
these things not only around the illustrations of 
the Heavenly Orders, but also, sometimes, around 
the supremely Divine Revelations Themselves. At 
one time, indeed, they extol It under exalted ima- 
gery as Sun 9 of Righteousness, as Morning' Star 
rising divinely in the mind, and as Light* illuming 
without veil and for contemplation; and at other 
times, through things in our midst, as Fire ', shedding 
its innocuous light; as Water", furnishing a fulness 
of life, and, to speak symbolically, flowing into a belly, 
and bubbling forth rivers flowing irresistibly ; and 
at other times, from things most remote, as sweet- 
smelling ointment 1 , as Head Corner-stone 7 . But 
they also clothe It in forms of wild beasts, and attach 
to It identity with a Lion % and Panther a , and say that 
it shall be a Leopard b , and a rushing Bear c . But, 

*» Mai. iv. 2. r Num. xxiv. 17 ; 2 Pet. i. 19. ■ John i. 5. 
1 Exod.iii. 2. u John vii. 38. x Cant. i. 2. 1 Eph. ii. 20. 
» Iloi. xiii. 8. * Ibid. 7. b Ibid. 8. c ibid. 

12 Dionysius the Areopagite 

I will also add, that which seems to be more dis- 
honourable than all, and the most incongruous, viz. 
that distinguished theologians have shewn it to us 
as representing Itself under the form of a worm d . 
Thus do all the godly-wise, and interpreters of the 
secret inspiration, separate the holy of holies e from 
the uninitiated and the unholy, to keep them un- 
defined, and prefer the dissimilar description of 
holy things, so that Divine things should neither 
be easily reached by the profane, nor those who 
diligently contemplate the Divine imagery rest in 
the types as though they were true* and so Divine 
things should be honoured by th/ true negations, 
and by comparisons with the lowest things, which 
are diverse from their proper resemblance. There is 
then nothing absurd if they depict even the Heavenly 
Beings under incongruous dissimilar similitudes, for 
causes aforesaid. For probably not even we should 
have come to an investigation, from not seeing our 
way, — not to say to mystic meaning through an 
^ accurate enquiry into Divine things,— unless the 
deformity of the descriptions representing the Angels 
had shocked us, not permitting our mind to linger 
in the discordant representations, but rousing us 
utterly to reject the earthly proclivities, and accus- 
toming us to elevate ourselves through things that 
are seen, to their supermundane mystical meanings. 
Let these things suffice to have been said on account 
of the material and incongruous descriptions of the 
holy Angels in the Holy Oracles. And next, it is 

d Ps. xxii. 6. e £7*0 ruv ayiwv. 

on the Heavenly HierarcJiy. 13 

necessary to define what we think the Hierarchy is 
in itself, and what benefit those who possess a 
Hierarchy derive from the same. But let Christ 
lead the discourse— if it be lawful to me to say— He 
Who is mine,— the Inspiration of all Hierarchical 
revelation. And thou, my son, after the pious rule 
of our Hierarchical tradition, do thou religiously 
listen to things religiously uttered, becoming inspired 
through instruction in inspired things; and when 
thou hast enfolded the Divine things in the secret 
recesses of thy mind, guard them closely from the / 
profane multitude as being uniform, for it is not 
lawful, as the Oracles say, to cast to swine the 
unsullied and bright and beautifying comeliness of 

the intelligible pearls. 



What is Hierarchy ? and what the use of Hierarchy ? 
Section I. 
Hierarchy is, in my judgment, a sacred order 
and science and operation, assimilated, as far as 
attainable, to the likeness of God, and conducted 
to the illuminations granted to it from God, ac- 
cording to capacity, with a view to the Divine imi- 
tation. Now the God-becoming Beauty, as simple, 
as good, as source of initiation, is altogether free 
from any dissimilarity, and imparts its own proper 
light to each according to their fitness, and perfects 
in most Divine initiation, as becomes the undeviat- 
ing moulding of those who are being initiated har- 
moniously to itself. 

14 Dionysius the Areopagite 

Section II. 
The purpose, then, of Hierarchy is the assimila-,(. 
tion and union, as far as attainable, with God, hav- 
ing Him Leader of all religious science and opera- 
tion, by looking unflinchingly to His most Divine 
comeliness, and copying, as far as possible, and by < c- 
perfecting its own followers as Divine images, mirrors 
most luminous and without flaw, receptive oT*the 
primal light and the supremely Divine ray, and de- 
voutly filled with the entrusted radiance, and again. 
spreading this radiance ungrudgingly to those after 
it, in accordance with the supremely Divine regu- " 
lations. For it is not lawful for the Mystic Rites 
of sacred things, or for things religiously done, to 
practise anything whatever beyond the sacred regu- 
lations of their own proper function. Nor even must 
they attempt otherwise, if they desire to attain its 
deifying splendour, and look to it religiously, and 
are moulded after the example of each of the holy 
minds. He, then, who mentions Hierarchy, denotes 
a certain altogether Holy Order, an image of the su- 
premely Divine freshness, ministering the mysteries 
of its own illumination in hierarchical ranks, and 
sciences, and assimilated to its own proper Head 
as far as lawful. 

For each of those who have been called into the 
Hierarchy, find their perfection in being carried to ^ 
the Divine imitation f in their own proper degree; 
and, what is more Divine than all, in becoming a 

f Eph. v. i. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 15 

fellow-worker b with God, as the Oracles say, and 
in shewing the Divine energy in himself manifested 
as far as possible, f For it is an Hierarchical regu- 
lation that some are purified and that others purify' 1 ; 
that some are enlightened and others enlighten 1 ; 
that some are perfected and others perfect; the 
Divine imitation will fit each one in this fashion. 
The Divine blessedness, to speak after the manner 
of men, is indeed unstained by any dissimilarity k , 
and is full of invisible light 1 — perfect™, and needing 
no perfection ; cleansing, illuminating, and perfect- 
ing, yea, rather a holy purification, and illumination, 
and perfection — above purification, above light, pre- 
eminently perfect, self-perfect source and cause of 
every Hierarchy, and elevated pre-eminently above 
every holy thing. 

Section III. 
It is necessary then, as I think, that those who 
are being purified should be entirely perfected, with- 
out stain, and be freed from all dissimilar confusion; 
that those who are being illuminated should be filled 
with the Divine Light, conducted to the habit and 
faculty of contemplation in all purity of mind ; that 
those who are being initiated should be separated 
from the imperfect, and become recipients of that 
perfecting science of the sacred things contemplated. 
Further, that those who purify should impart, from 
their own abundance of purity, their own proper holi- 
ness ; that those who illuminate, as being more 

* I Cor. iii. 9. h Ps. li. 9. 5 Ibid. cxix. 18. 

k Deut. vi. 4. ' John xii. 46. ■ ■ Matt. v. 48. 

1 6 Dionysius the Areopagite 

luminous intelligences, whose function it is to re- 
ceive and to impart light, and who are joyfully filled 
with holy gladness, that these should overflow, in pro- 
portion to their own overflowing light, towards those 
who are worthy of enlightenment ; and that those 
who make perfect, as being skilled in the impartation 
of perfection, should perfect those being perfected, 
through the holy instruction, in the science of the 
holy things contemplated. Thus each rank of the 
Hierarchical Order is led, in its own degree, to the 
Divine co-operation, by performing, through grace 
and God-given power, those things which are natur- 
ally and supernaturally in the Godhead, and accom- 
plished by It superessentially, and manifested hier- 
archically, for the attainable imitation of the God- 
loving Minds n . 

What is meant by the appellation " Angels ? " 
Section I. 
Now that the Hierarchy itself has been, in my 
judgment, sufficiently defined, we must next extol 
the Angelic Hierarchy, and we must contemplate, 
with supermundane eyes, its sacred formations, de- 
picted in the Oracles, in order that we may be borne 
aloft to their Divinely resplendent simplicity, through 
the mystic representations, and may extol the source 
of all Hierarchical science with God-becoming rever- 
ence and with thanksgivings. First of all, however, 
• The Holy Angels. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. i y 

let this truth be spoken -that it was through good- 
ness that the superessential Godhead, having fixed 
all the essences of things being, brought them into 
being. For this is the peculiar characteristic of the 
Cause of all things, and of goodness surpassing all, 
to call things being to participation of Itself, as each 
order of things being was determined from its own 
analogy. For all things being share in a Providence, 
which bubbles forth from the superessential Deity, 
Cause of all things. For they would not be, unless 
they had participated in the Essence and Origin of 
things being. All things then, without life, participate 
in It by their being. For the being of all things is 
the Deity, above being ; things living participate in 
its life-giving power, above all life; things rational 
and intellectual participate in its self-perfect and pre- 
eminently perfect wisdom, above all reason and mind. 
It is evident, then, that all those Beings are around 
It, which have participated in It, in many forms. 

Section II. 
The holy orders, then, of the Heavenly Beings 
share in the supremely Divine participation, in a 
higher degree than things which merely exist, or 
which lead an irrational life, or which are rational 
like ourselves. For by moulding themselves intel- 
ligibly to the Divine imitation, and looking super- 
mundanely to the supremely Divine likeness, and 
striving to mould their intellectual appearance, they 
naturally have more ungrudging communications with 
It, being near and ever moving upwards, as far as- 


l8 Dionysius the Areopagite 

lawful, elevating themselves with the intensity of the 
Divine unswerving love, and receiving the primal 
illuminations without earthly stain, and ranging them- 
selves to these, and having their whole life intel- 
lectual. These, then, are they who, at first hand, 
and under many forms, participate in the Divine, 
and, at first hand, and under many fonns, make 
known the supremely Divine Hiddenness. Where- 
fore, beyond all, they are deemed pre-eminently worthy 
of the appellation Angelic, on the ground that the 
supremely Divine illumination comes to them at 
/ first hand, and, through them, there pass to us mani- 
festations above us. Thus, then, the Law, as the 
Word of God affirms, was given to us through the 
ministration of Angels ° ; and Angels led our illus- 
trious fathers p before the Law, and after the Law, 
to the Divine Being, either by leading * them to what 
was to be done, and by converting them from error, 
and an unholy life, to the straight way of truth r , or 
by making known to them sacred ordinances 8 , or 
hidden visions, or supermundane mysteries*, or cer- 
tain Divine predictions through the Prophets u . 

Section III. 

But if any one should say that Divine manifes- 
tations were made directly and immediately to some 
holy men x , let him learn, and that distinctly, from 
the most Holy Oracles, that no one hath seen, nor 

° Gal. iii. 18. p Acts vii. 53. 1 Gen. xxii. 12. 

' Acts x. 3. . Dan. vii. 16. * Ibid. 10. 

■ 2 Cor. xii. 2. x Matt. ii. 13. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. I9 

ever shall see, the " hidden " rb Kp <,cf>iop of Almighty 
God as it is in itself y. Now Divine manifestations 
were made to the pious as befits revelations of God, 
that is to say, through certain holy visions analogous 
to those who see them. Now the all-wise Word of 
God (Theologia) naturally calls Theophany that par- 
ticular vision which manifests the Divine similitude 
depicted in itself as in a shaping of the shapeless, 
from the elevation of the beholders to the Divine 
Being, since through it a divine illumination comes 
to the beholders, and the divine persons themselves 
are religiously initiated into some mystery. But 
our illustrious fathers were initiated into these Divine 
visions, through the mediation of the Heavenly Powers. 
Does not the tradition of the Oracles describe the 
holy legislation of the Law, given to Moses, as 
coming straight from God, in order that it may 
teach us this truth, that it is an outline of a Divine 
and holy legislation ? But the Word of God, in its 
Wisdom, teaches this also— that it came to us 
through Angels, as though the Divine regulation 
were laying down this rule, that, through the first, 
the second are brought to the Divine Being. For 
not only with regard to the superior and inferior 
minds, but even for those of the same rank, this 
Law has been established by the superessential 
supreme ordinance, that, within each Hierarchy, 
there are first, and middle, and last ranks and 
powers, and that the more divine are instructors 

7 John i. 18 ; i John iv. 12 ; 1 Tim. vi. 16. 

so Dionysius the Areopagite 

and conductors of the less, to the Divine access, 
and illumination, and participation. 

Section IV. 
But I observe that Angels first were initiated in the 
Divine mystery of the love of Jesus towards man, then, 
through them, the gift of its knowledge passed to us. 
Thus, for example, the most divine Gabriel instructed 
Zachariah 2 , the Hierarch, that the son who was to be 
born to him, beyond hope, by Divine grace, should 
be a prophet of the a God-incarnate work of the 
Lord Jesus, to be manifested to the world for its 
salvation, as becomes the Divine goodness ; and 
he revealed to Mary b , how, in her, should be born 
the supremely Divine mystery of the unutterable God- 
formation. Yet another Angel instructed Joseph , 
how, in very truth, should be fulfilled the things 
Divinely promised to his ancestor David. Another 
declared glad tidings to the shepherds d , as being 
purified by their separation from the multitude, and 
their quiet life, and, with him, a multitude of the 
Heavenly Host announced to those on earth that 
often-sung doxology. Let us then ascend to the' 
highest manifestations of light contained in the 
Oracles, for I perceive that even Jesus himself e , 
the superessential Cause of the super-heavenly Beings, 
J when He had come to our condition, without change f , 
did not overstep che good order which becomes' 

Luke l. II — 20. ' avdpiKTJs rov 'irjtroC deovpyias. 

b Luke i. 26-38. c Matt. i. 20—23. d Luke ii. 8 — 14. 

Phil. ii. 6 — 8. f irpbs rb KaQ' ^aas a/ueraj9oA.a>s. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 2 1 

mankind, which Himself arranged and took, but 
readily subjected Himself to the dispositions of the 
Father and God, through Angels; and, through 
their mediation, was announced to Joseph the de- 
parture of the Son to Egypt s, which had been 
arranged by the Father, and again the return to 
Judaea h from Egypt. And through Angels we see 
Him subjecting Himself to the Father's decrees. 
For I forbear to speak, as addressing one who 
knows the teaching of our hierarchical tradition, 
both concerning the Angel* who strengthened the 
Lord Jesus, or that even Jesus Himself, when He 
had come to manifest the good work of our bene- 
ficent salvation, was called k Angel l of Great Coun- 
sel. For, as He Himself says, after the manner 
of an Angel, "Whatsoever He heard from the Father, 
He announced to us m ." 


For what reason all the Heavenly Beings are called, 
in conwwn, Angels. 

This, then, in our judgment, is the reason for 
the appellation Angelic in the Oracles. We must 
now, I suppose, enquire for what reason the theo- 
logians call all n the Heavenly Beings together " An- 
gels;" but when they come to a more accurate 

« Matt. ii. 13. »> Ibid. 19, 20. * Luke xxii. 43. 

k C. ii. 30. l Isa. ix. 6. m John xv. 15. n Ps. ciii. 20 ; 
Matt. xxv. 31. 

2 2 Dionysius the Areopagite 

description of the supermundane orders, they name 
exclusively, "angelic rank," that which completes 
k/ the full tale of the Divine and Heavenly Hosts. 
• Before this, however, they range pre-eminently, the 
Orders of Archangels, and the Principalities, the 
Authorities, and Powers, and as many Beings as 
the revealing traditions of the Oracles recognize as 
superior to them °. Now, we affirm that throughout 
every sacred ordinance the superior ranks possess 
the illuminations and powers of their subordinates, 
but the lowest have not the same powers as those 
who are above them. The theologians also call 
the most holy ranks of the highest Beings " Angels," 
for they also make known the supremely Divine 
illumination. But there is no reason to call the 
lowest rank of the celestial Minds, Principalities, 
or Thrones, or Seraphim. For it does not possess 
the highest powers, but, as it conducts our inspired 
Hierarchs to the splendours of the Godhead known 
to it; so also, the saintly powers of the Beings 
above it are conductors, towards the Divine Being, 
of that Order which completes the Angelic Hier- 
archies. Except perhaps some one might say this 
also, that all the angelic appellations are common, as 
regards the subordinate and superior communication 
of all the celestial powers towards the Divine like- 
ness, and the gift of light from God. But, in order 
that the question may be better investigated, let 
us reverently examine the saintly characteristics set 
forth respecting each celestial Order in the Oracles. 
• Isa. vi. 2. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 23 


Which is the first Order of the Heavenly Beings ? 
which the middle ? and which the last ? 

How many, and of what sort, are the Orders of 
the supercelestial Beings, and how the Hierarchies 
are classified* amongst themselves, I affirm, the 
deifying Author of their consecration alone distinctly 
knows ; and further, that they know their own pro- 
per powers and illuminations, and their sacred and 
supermundane regularity. For it is impossible that 
we should know the mysteries of the supercelestial 
Minds and their most holy perfections, except, some 
one might say, so far as the Godhead has revealed 
to us, through them, as knowing perfectly their own 
condition. We, then, will utter nothing as from 
ourselves, but whatever angelic visions have been 
gazed upon by the holy Prophets of God, we, as 
initiated in these, will set forth as best we can. 
The Word of God has designated the whole Heavenly 
Beings as nine, by appellations, which shew their 
functions. These our Divine Initiator divides into 
three threefold Orders. He also says that that 
which is always around God is first, and is declared 
by tradition to be united closely and immediately 
to Him, before all the rest. For he says that the 
teaching of the Holy Oracles declares, that the most 
Holy Thrones, and the many-eyed <* and many- 
winged 1 ' hosts, named in the Hebrew tongue Cheru- 
bim 8 and Seraphim 6 , are established immediately 

p reKovvrai. 1 Ezek. i. 18. * Ibid. 6. 

■ Ibid. x. l Isa. vi. 2. 

2 4 Dionysius the Areopagite 

around God, with a nearness superior to all. This 
threefold order, then, our illustrious Guide spoke 
of as one, and of equal rank, and really first 
Hierarchy, than which there is" not another more 
Godlike or immediately nearer to the earliest illu- 
minations of the Godhead. But he says that which 
is composed of the Authorities, and Lordships, and 
Powers is second; and, as respects the lowest of 
the Heavenly Hierarchies, the Order of the Angels 
and Archangels and Principalities is third. 


Concerning the Seraphim and Cherubim and Thrones, 
and concerning their first Hierarchy. 

Section I. 
We, whilst admitting this as the arrangement of 
the holy Hierarchies, affirm, that every appellation of 
the celestial Minds denotes the Godlike characteristic 
of each ; and those who know Hebrew affirm, that 
the holy designation of the Seraphim denotes either 
that they are kindling or burning; and that of Che- 
rubim, a fulness of knowledge or stream of wisdom. 
Naturally, then, the first (order) of the Heavenly 
Hierarchies is ministered" by the most exalted 
Beings, holding, as it does, a rank which is higher 
than all, from the fact, that it is established imme- 
diately around God, and that the first-wrought Di- 
vine manifestations and perfections pass earlier to 


on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 2 $ 

it, as being nearest. They are called, then, " Burn- 
ing," and Thrones, and Stream of Wisdom by a 

name which sets forth their Godlike conditions. 
The appellation of Seraphim plainly teaches their 
ever moving around things Divine, and constancy, 
and warmth, and keenness, and the seething of that 
persistent, indomitable, and inflexible perpetual mo- 
tion, and the vigorous assimilation and elevation of 
the subordinate, as giving new life and rekindling 
them to the same heat; and purifying through fire 
and burnt-offering, and the light-like and light-shed- 
ding characteristic which can never be concealed or 
consumed, and remains always the same, which de- 
stroys and dispels every kind of obscure darkness. 
But the appellation of the Cherubim denotes their 
knowledge and their vision of God, and their readi- 
ness to receive the highest gift of light, and their 
power of contemplating the super-Divine comeliness 
in its first revealed power, and their being filled 
anew with the impartation which maketh wise, and 
their ungrudging communication to those next to 
them, by the stream of the given wisdom. The 
appellation of the most exalted and pre-eminent 
Thrones denotes their manifest exaltation above 
every grovelling inferiority, and their supermundane 
tendency towards higher things ; and their unswerv- 
ing separation from all remoteness; and their in- 
variable and firmly-fixed settlement around the verit- 
able Highest, with the whole force of their powers ; 
and their receptivity of the supremely Divine ap- 
proach, in the absence of all passion and earthly 

26 Dionysius the Areopagite 

tendency, and their bearing God; and the ardent 
expansion of themselves for the Divine receptions. 

Section II. 
This then, is the revelation of their names, so 
far as we can give it ; and we ought to say what we 
think their Hierarchy is. For I suppose we have 
sufficiently shewn above, that the purpose of every 
Hierarchy is an unswerving devotion to the divine 
imitation of the Divine Likeness, and that every 
Hierarchical function is set apart for the sacred re- 
ception and distribution of an undefiled purification, 
and Divine Light, and perfecting science. 

And now I pray that I may speak worthily of the 
most exalted Minds-how the Hierarchy amongst 
them is exhibited through the Oracles. 
' One must consider, then, that the Hierarchy is 
akin, and in every respect like, to the first Beings, 
who are established after the Godhead, who gave 
them Being, and who are marshalled, as it were, in 
Its very vestibule, who surpass every unseen and 
seen created power. We must then regarfthem as 
pure, not as though they had been freed from unholy 
stains and blemishes, nor yet as though they were 
unreceptive of earthly fancies, but as far exalted 
above every stain of remissness and every inferior 
holiness, as befits the highest degree of purity-es- 
tablished above the most Godlike powers, and cling- 
ing unflinchingly to their own self-moved and same- 
moved rank in their invariable love of God, conscious 
• in no respect whatever of any declivity to a worse 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 27 

condition, but having the unsullied fixity of their 
own Godlike identity —never liable to fall, and always 
unmoved; and again, as "contemplative," not con- 
templators of intellectual symbols as sensible, nor as 
being led to the Divine Being by the varied texture 
of holy representations written for meditation, but 
as being filled with all kinds of immaterial know- 
ledge of higher light, and satiated, as permissible, 
with the beautifying and original beauty of super- 
essential and thrice manifested contemplation, and 
thus, being deemed worthy of the Communion with 
Jesus, they do not stamp pictorially the deifying 
similitude in divinely-formed images, but, as being 
really near to Him, in first participation of the 
knowledge of His deifying illuminations ; nay more, 
that the imitation of God is given to them in the 
highest possible degree, and they participate, so far 
as is allowable to them, in His deifying and philan- 
thropic virtues, in the power of a first manifestation ; 
and, likewise as "perfected," not as being illumi- 
nated with an analytic science of sacred variety, but 
as being filled with a first and pre-eminent deifi- 
cation, as beseems the most exalted science of the 
works of God, possible in Angels. For, not through 
other holy Beings, but being ministered from the 
very Godhead, by the immediate elevation to It, by 
their power, and rank, surpassing all, they are both 
established near the All-Holy without any shadow 
of turning, and are conducted for contemplation to 
the immaterial and intelligible comeliness, as far as 
permissible, and are initiated into the scientific 

2 g Dionysius the Areopngite 

methods of the works of God, as being first and 
around God, being ministered, in the highest degree, 
from the very source of consecration. 

Section III. 
This, then, the theologians distinctly shew (viz.) 
that the subordinate Orders of the Heavenly Being. 
S taught by the superior, in due order, the « 
sciences ; and that those who are h.gher than all are 
Uuminated from Godhead itself, as far as perm'SStble, 
in revelations of the Divine mysteries. For hey m- 
troduce some of them as being religiously instructed 
by those of a higher rank, that He, Who was raised 
to" Heaven , as Man, is Lord of the Heavenly Powers 
and King of Glory ; and others, as Jesus 
•Himself, as desiring to be instructed m the science 
of His Divine work on our behalf, and Jesus Him- 
self teaching them immediately, and I shewing to .then, 
at first hand, His beneficent work out of love to 
man For « ,» He says, "am speaking of righteous- 
Tss'and judgment of Salvation V Now I am as- 
tonished that even the first of the Beings ,n Heaven, 
and so far above all, should reverently strive after 
the supremely Divine illuminations, as intermediate 
Beings" Fo/ they do not ask directly, "Wherefore 
are Thy garments red*?" but they first raise the 
' question among themselves, shewing that they desire 
to learn, and crave the deifying knowledge, and not 
anticipating the illumination given after a Divine 


. r Ua lxiii I. Ibld * 2 * 

* Ps. xxiv. 7— I0 - lsa ' 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy . 29 

The first Hierarchy, then, of the Heavenly Minds 
is purified, and enlightened, and perfected, by being 
ministered from the very Author of initiation, through 
its elevation to It immediately, being filled, ac- 
cording to its degree, with the altogether most holy 
purification of the unproachable Light of the pre- 
perfect source of initiation, unstained indeed by 
any remissness, and full of primal Light, and per- 
fected by its participation in first-given knowledge 
and science. But to sum up, I may say this, not 
inappropriately, that the reception of the supremely 
Divine Science is, both purification, and enlighten- 
ment, and perfecting, — purifying, as it were, from 
ignorance, by the knowledge of the more perfect 
revelations imparted to it according to fitness, and 
enlightening by the self- same Divine knowledge, 
through which it also purifies, that which did not 
before contemplate the things which are now made 
manifest through the higher illumination ; and per- 
fecting further, by the self-same Light, through the 
abiding science of the mysteries made clearly 

Section IV. 

This, then, according to my science, is the first 
rank of the Heavenly Beings which encircle and 
stand immediately around God; and without sym- 
bol, and without interruption, dances round His 
eternal knowledge in the most exalted ever-moving 
stability as in Angels; viewing purely many/ and 
blessed contemplations, and illuminated with simple 

3° Dionysius the Areopagite 

and immediate splendours, and filled with Divine 
nourishment,-many indeed by the first-given pro- 
fusion, but one by the unvariegated and unifying 
oneness of the supremely Divine banquet, deemed 
worthy indeed of much participation and co-opera- 
tion with God, by their assimilation to Him as far 
as attainable, of their excellent habits and energies 
and knowing many Divine things pre-eminently, and 
participating in supremely Divine science and know- 
ledge, as is lawful. Wherefore the Word of God has 
transmitted its hymns to those on earth, in which 
are Divinely shewn the excellency of its most exalted 
illumination. For some of its members, to speak 
after sensible perception, proclaim as a "voice ot 
many waters," "Blessed is the glory of the Lord 
from His place * f and others cry aloud that fre- 
quent and most august hymn b of God, " Holy, Holy, 
Holy, Lord of Sabaoth, the whole earth is full'of His 
glory c.» These most excellent hymnologies of the 
supercelestial Minds we have already unfolded to 
the best of our ability in the " Treatise concerning 
the Divine Hymns," and have spoken sufficiently 
concerning them in that Treatise, from which, by 
way of remembrance, it is enough to produce so 
much as is necessary to the present occasion, namely, 
" That the first Order, having been illuminated, from 
this the supremely Divine goodness, as permissible, 
in theological science, as a Hierarchy reflecting that 
Goodness transmitted to those next after it," teach- 
ing briefly this, "That it is just and right that the 
' Ezek. iii. 12. b e*o\oyl w . % Isa. i. 3. 

o?i the Heavenly Hierarchy. 3 x 

august Godhead — Itself both above praise, and 
all-praiseworthy — should be known and extolled by 
the God-receptive minds, as is attainable; for they 
as images of God are, as the Oracles d say, the Di- 
vine places of the supremely Divine repose e ; and 
further, that It is Monad and Unit tri-subsistent f , 
sending forth His most kindly forethought to all 
things being, from the super-heavenly Minds to the 
lowest of the earth ; as super-original Origin and 
Cause of every essence, and grasping all things super- 
essentially in a resistless embrace. 


Concerning Lordships and Powers and Authorities, 
and concerning their middle Hierarchy. 

Section I. 
Let us now pass to the middle Order of the 
Heavenly Minds, gazing, as far as we may, with 
supermundane eyes upon those Lordships, and the 
truly terrible visions of the Divine Authorities and 
Powers. For each appellation of the Beings above 
us manifests their God-imitating characteristics of the 
Divine Likeness. I think, then, that the explanatory 
name of the Holy Lordships denotes a certain un- 
slavish elevation, free from all grovelling subserviency, 
as becomes the free, not submitting itself in any 
way whatever to one of the tyrannical dissimilarities, 
as a cruel Lordship ; superior to every kind of cring- 
ing slavery, indomitable to every subserviency,, and 
elevated above every dissimilarity, ever aspiring to 
d Isa. lxvi. 1. • Acts vii. 49. ' Heb. i. 3. 


3 2 Diony sius the Areopagite 

the true Lordship, and source of Lordship ; and 
moulding, as an image of goodness, itself, and those 
after it, to its Lordly bearing, as attainable, turning 
itself wholly to none of the things that vainly seem, but 
to the Lordly Being, and ever-sharing in the Lordly 
Likeness of God, to its utmost ability; and the 
appellation of the Holy Powers denotes a certain 
courageous and_unflinching virility, for all those" 
Godlike energies within them— not feebly weak for 
the reception of any of the Divine illuminations 
vouchsafed to it— vigorously conducted to the Divine 
imitation, not forsaking the Godlike movement 
through its own unmanliness, but unflinchingly look- 
ing to the superessential and powerful-making power, 
and becoming a powerlike image of this, as far as is 
attainable, and powerfully turned to this, as Source of 
Power, and issuing forth to those next in degree, 
in gift of Power, and in likeness to God; and ''that 
the appellation of the Holy Authorities, of the same 
rank as the Divine Lordships and Powers, (denotes) 
the beautiful and unconfused good order, with regard 
to the Divine receptions, and the discipline oAhe 
supermundane and intellectual authority, not using 
the authoritative powers imperiously for base pur- 
poses, but conducted indomitably, with good order, 
towards Divine things, and conducting those after it 
benignly, and assimilated, as far as permissible, to the 
Authoritative Source of authority, and making this 
visible, as is possible to Angels, in the well-ordered 
ranks of the authoritative power within it. The 
middle Order of the Heavenly Minds having these 
Godlike characteristics, is purified and illuminated 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 33 

and perfected in the manner described, by the Divine 
illuminations vouchsafed to it at second hand, through 
the first Hierarchical Order, and passing through this 
middle as a secondary manifestation. 

Section II. 
No doubt, as regards that message, which is said 
to_pass through one angel to another, we may take 
it as a symbol of a perfecting completed from afar, 
and obscured by reason of its passage to the second 
rar>k. For, as men skilled in our sacred initiations 
say, the fulness of Divine things manifested directly 
to ourselves is more perfecting than the Divine con- 
templations imparted through others. Thus, I think, 
the immediate participation of the Angelic ranks 
elevated in first degree to God, is more clear than 
those perfected through the instrumentality of others. 
Wherefore by our sacerdotal tradition, the first Minds 
are named perfecting, and illuminating, and purifying 
Powers of the subordinate, who are conducted, 
through them, to the superessential Origin of all 
things, and participate, as far as is permissible to 
them, in the consecrating purifications, and illumi- 
nations, and perfections. For, this is divinely fixed 
absolutely by the Divine source of order that, 
through the first, the second partake of the su- 
premely Divine illuminations. This you will find 
declared by the theologians in many ways. For, when 
the Divine and Paternal Love towards man whilst 
chastening, in a startling manner, His people Israel, 
for their religious preservation, after delivering them 


34 Dionysius the AreopagUe 

to terrible and savage nations for correction, by 
various leadings of His guided people to better 
things, both liberated them from their misery, and 
mildly led them back, through His compassion, to 
their former state of comfort; one of the theolo- 
gians, Zechariah, sees one of the first Angels, as 
I think, and near God, (for the Angelic appellation 
is common, as I said, to them all), learning from 
God Himself the comforting words, as they are called, 
concerning this matter ; and another Angel, of inferior 
rank, advancing to meet the first, as for reception 
and participation of enlightenment ; then, by him in- 
structed in the Divine purpose as from a Hierarch, 
and charged to reveal to the theologian that Jeru- 
salem should be abundantly occupied by a multitude 
of people e. And another theologian, Ezekiel, says 
that this was righteously ordained by the glorious Deity 
Itself, seated above the Cherubim h . For Paternal 
Love towards man, conducting Israel as we have said 
through chastisement to better things, by a righteous- 
ness worthy of God, deemed right to separate the 
guilty from the guiltless. This is first revealed to 
one after the Cherubim * ; him who was bound about 
the loins with a sapphire J, and wore displayed the 
robe coming down to the feet, as a Hierarchical 
symbol. But the Divine Government enjoins the 
other Angels, who bore the battle-axes k , to be in- 
structed from the former, as to the Divine judgment 
in this matter. For, to one, He said that he should 
* Zech. i. 8—17. •« Ezek. ix. 3. > Ibid. 3. 

J Ibid. x. 1. * Ibid. ix. 2. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 35 

go through the midst of Jerusalem, and place the 
sign upon the forehead of the innocent men, but to 
the others; "Go into the city after him and strike, 
and draw not back your eyes, but to every one upon 
whom is the sign draw not near." 

What would any one say concerning the Angel, 
who said to Daniel ', " The word has gone forth ? " 
or concerning him the first, who took the fire from 
the midst of the Cherubim, or what is more remark- 
able than this for shewing the good order amongst 
the Angels, that the Cherubim casts the fire into 
the hands m of him who wears the sacred vestment ; 
or concerning Him Who called the most divine 
Gabriel, and said to him, "Make this man under- 
stand the vision"," or whatever else is recorded by 
the holy theologians concerning the Godlike order 
of the Heavenly Hierarchies; by being assimilated 
to which, as far as possible, the discipline of our 
Hierarchy will have the Angelic comeliness, as it 
were, in reflection, moulded through it, and con- 
ducted to the superessential Source of order in everv 



Concerning the Principalities, Archangels, and Angels, 
and concerning their last Hierarchy. 

Section I. 
There remains for our reverent contemplation 
a Division which completes the Angelic Hierarchies, 

1 Dan. ix. 23. m Ezek. x. 2—7. ■ Dan. viii. 16. 

3*> Dionysius the Areopagite 

that divided into the Godlike Principalities, Arch- 
angels, and Angels. And I think it necessary, to 
declare first the meaning of their sacred appellations 
to the best of my ability. For that of the Heavenly 
Principalities manifests their princely and leading 
function, after the Divine example, with order re- 
ligious and most befitting the Princely, and their 
being wholly turned to the super-princely Prince, 
and leading others in princely fashion, and being 
moulded, as far as possible, to that prince-making 
Princedom Itself, and to manifest its superessential 
princely order, by the regularity of the princely 

Section II. 

The (Order) of the Holy Archangels is of the 
same rank with the heavenly Principalities. For 
there is one Hierarchy and Division, as I said, 
of them and the Angels. But since thereis not 
a Hierarchy which does not possess first and middle 
and last powers, the holy order of Archangels oc- 
cupies the middle position in the Hierarchy between 
the extremes, for it belongs alike to the most holy 
Principalities and to the holy Angels ; to the Prin- 
cipalities because it is turned in a princely fashion 
to the superessential Princedojn, and is moulded 
to It as far as attainable, and unites the Angels 
after the fashion of its own well-regulated and mar- 
shalled and invisible leadings; and it belongs to 
the Angels, because it is of the messenger Order, 
receiving hierarchically the Divine illuminations from 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 37 

the first powers, and announcing the same to the 
Angels in a godly manner, and, through Angels, 
manifesting to us, in proportion to the religious 
aptitude of each of the godly persons illuminated. 
For the Angels, as we have already said, complete 
the whole series of Heavenly Minds, as being the 
last Order of the Heavenly Beings who possess the 
Angelic characteristic; yea, rather, they are more 
properly named Angels by us than those of higher 
degree, because' their Hierarchy is occupied with 
the more manifest, and is more particularly con- 
cerned with the things of the world. For the very 
highest Order, as being placed in the first rank 
near the Hidden One, we must consider as directing 
in spiritual things the second, hiddenly; and that v 
the second, which is composed of the holy Lord- 
ships and Powers and Authorities, leads the Hier- 
archy of the Principalities and Archangels and 
Angels, more clearly indeed than the first Hierarchy, 
but more hiddenly than the Order after it, and - 
the revealing order of the Principalities, Archangels, 
and Angels, presides, through each other, over the 
Hierarchi es amongst men,, in order that the eleva- 
tion, and conversion, and communion, and union 
with God may be in due order; and, further, also 
that the procession from God vouchsafed benignly 
to all the Hierarchies, and passing to all in common, 
may be also with most sacred regularity. Hence, 
the Word of God has assigned our Hierarchy to 
Angels, by naming Michael as Ruler of the Jewish 
people, and others over other nations. For the 

3 8 Diony sins the Areopagite 

Most High established borders of nations according 
to number of Angels of° God. 

Section III. 
But if any one should say, " How then were the 
people of the Hebrews alone conducted to the 
supremely Divine illuminations?" we must answer, 
that we ought not to throw the blame of the other 
nations wandering after those which are no gods 
upon the direct guidance of the Angels, but that 
they themselves, by their own declension, fell away 
from the direct leading towards the Divine Being, 
through self-conceit and self-will, and through their 
irrational" veneration for things which appeared to 
them worthy of God. Even the Hebrew people 
are said to have suffered the same thing ; for He 
says, "Thou<i hast cast away knowledge of God, 
and'hast gone after thine own heart V For neither 
1 have we a, life governed by necessity, nor on account 
' oflne free will of those who are objects of pro- 
vidential care, are the Divine rays of the providential 
illumination blunted; but the inaptitude of the 
mental visions makes the overflowing light-gift of 
the paternal goodness, ehher altogether unpartic^ 
pitted or inpenetrable to Jheir resistance, or makes 
the participations of the one fontal ray, diverse, 
small, or great, obscure, or brilliant, although that 
ray is one and simple, and always the same and ever 
overflowing ; for even if, over the other nations (from 

" Deut. xxxii. 8. p ava\6y<f. I suggest &\oy V . 

* Hoseaiv. 6. r Jer. xvi. 12. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 39 

whom we also have emerged to that boundless and 
bounteous sea of Divine Light, which is readily 
expanded for the ready reception of all), certain not- 
alien gods were wont to preside ; yet there is one 
Head of all, and to this, the Angels, who religiously 
direct each nation, conduct those who follow them. 
Let us consider Melchizedek s as being a Hierarch, 
most dear to God ; (not of gods which are not, but 
of the truly most high God); for the godly -wise 
did not call Melchizedek simply dear to God, but 
also Priest, in order that they may clearly shew 
to the wise, that not only was he himself turned 
to the true God, but further that he was guide to 
others, as Hierarch of the elevation to the true and 
only Godhead. 

Section IV. 

Let me also recall this to your Hierarchical judg- 
ment—that both to Pharaoh *, from the Angel who 
presided over the Egyptians, and to the Babylonian u 
Prince, from his own Angel, the watchful and ruling 
care of the Providence and Lordship over all, was 
interpreted in visions; and for those nations, the 
worshippers of the true God were appointed leaders, 
for the interpretation of things shaped by Angelic 
visions revealed from God through Angels to holy 
men akin to the Angels, Daniel and Joseph. For 
there is one Prince and Providence over all. 
And never must we think that the Godhead is 
leader of Jews by lot x , and that Angels, inde- 

• Gen. xiv. 18 ; Heb. vii. 1. * Gen. xli. 1—7. 

tt Dan. ii. 1. * a-roKAripwTiKws. 

40 Dionysius the Areopagite 

pendently, or as of equal rank, or in opposition, 
or that certain other gods, preside over the other 
nations. But that particular phrase of the Divine 
Word must be accepted according to the follow- 
ing sacred intention ; not as though God had di- 
vided government amongst men, with other gods, 
or Angels, and had been elected by lot to the 
government and leadership of Israel, but in this 
sense — whilst the one Providence of Highest over 
all, assigned all mankind, savingly, to the directing 
conduct of their own Angels, yet Israel, almost 
v/ alone in comparison with all, turned himself to 
the Light-gift, and recognition of the true Lord- 
Hence the Word of God, as shewing that Israel 
elected himself for the worship of the true God, 
says this, "He became 2 Lord's portion;" and as 
indicating that he was assigned equally with the 
other nations, to one of the holy Angels, for the 
recognition, through him, of the Head of all, said 
"That Michael* became leader of the (Jewish) 
people," demonstrating distinctly that there is one 
Providence of the whole, superessentially established 
above all the powers, unseen and seen, and that 
all the Angels who preside over each nation, elevate, 
as far as possible, those who follow them with a 
willing mind, to It as their proper Head. 

* 4xtaTpa<p6P7os — iir€arpa<p€iroi{?). » Deut. xxxii. 9. 

• Dan. x. 21. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 41 


A Repetition and Summary of the Angelic discipline. 
Section I. 
We have concluded, then, that the most reverend 
Order of the Minds around God, ministered by the 
perfecting illumination through its immediate ele- 
vation to it, is purified, and illuminated, and per- 
fected by a gif t of light from the Godhead, more 
hidden and more manifest — more hidden, indeed, 
as being more intelligible, and more simplifying, 
and more unifying ; more manifest, as being a first 
gift and a first manifestation, and more complete, 
and more affused to it as transparent. And from 
this (Order) again, in due degree, the second, and 
from the second, the third, and from the third, our 
Hierarchy, is reverently conducted to the super- 
original Origin and End of all good order, accord- 
ing to the self-same law of well-ordered regularity, 
in Divine harmony and proportion. 

Section II. 
Now all Angels are interpreters of those above 
them, the most reverend, indeed, of God, Who 
moves them, and the rest, in due degree, ot 
those who have been moved by God. For, to such 
an extent has the superessential harmony of all 
things provided for the religious order and the 
regulated conduct of each of the rational and in- 
tellectual beings, that each rank of the Hierarchies 
has been placed in sacred order, and we observe 

4 2 Dionysius the Areopagite 

every Hierarchy distributed into first, and middle, 
and last Powers. But to speak accurately, He dis- 
tinguished each Division itself, by the same Divine 
harmonies ; wherefore the theologians say that the 
most Divine Seraphim cry one to another \ in- 
dicating distinctly, as I think by this, that the' first 
impart their knowledge of divine things to the 

Section III. 
I might add this not inappropriately, that each 
heavenly and human mind has within itself its own 
special first, and middle, and last ranks, and powers, 
manifested severally in due degree, for the aforesaid 
particular mystical meanings of the Hierarchical 
illuminations, according to which, each one par- 
ticipates, so far as is lawful and attainable to him, 
in the most spotless purification, the most copious 
light, the pre-eminent perfection. For there is no- 
thing that is self-perfect, or absolutely without need 
of perfecting, except the really Self-perfect and pre- 
eminently Perfect. 



For what reason all the Heavetily Beings, in common, 
are called Heavenly Powers. 

Section I. 

Now that we have defined these things, it is 

worthy of consideration for what reason we are 

accustomed to call ; all the Angelic Beings together, 

b Isa. vi. 3. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 43 

Heavenly Powers. For it is not possible to say, 
■as we may of the Angels, that the Order of the 
holy Powers is last of all. The Orders of the 
superior Beings share in the saintly illumination 
of the last; but the last in no wise of the first; 
and on this account all the Divine Minds are called 
Heavenly Powers, but never Seraphim and Thrones 
and Lordships. For the last do not enjoy the whole 
characteristics of the highest. For the Angels, and 
those above the Angels — Archangels, and Princi- 
palities, and Authorities, — placed by the Word of 
Gcd after the Powers, are often in common called 
by us, in conjunction with the other holy Beings, 
Heavenly Powers. 

Section II. 

But we affirm that, whilst often using the appel- 
lation, Heavenly Powers, for all in common, we do 
not introduce a sort of confusion of the character- 
istics of each Order. But, inasmuch as all the 
Divine Minds, by the supermundane description 
given of them, are distributed into three, — into es- 
sence, and power, and energy, — when we speak of 
them all, or some of them, indiscriminately, as 
Heavenly Beings or Heavenly Powers, we must con- 
sider that we manifest those about whom we speak 
in a general way, from their essence or power sever- 
ally. For we must not apply the superior character- 
istic of those holy Powers, whom we have already 
sufficiently distinguished, to the Beings which are 
entirely inferior to them, so as to overthrow the 
unconfused order of the Angelic ranks. For accord- 

44 Dionysius the Areopagite 

rng to the correct account which we have already 
frequently given, the superior Orders possess abund- 
antly the sacred characteristics of the inferior, but 
the lowest do not possess the superior completeness 
of the more reverend, since the first-manifested 
illuminations are revealed to them, through the 
first Order, in proportion to their capacity. 


Why the Hierarchs amongst men are called Angels. 

Section I. 
But this is sometimes also asked by diligent 
contemplators of the intelligible Oracles ; Inasmuch 
as the lowest Orders do not possess the complete- 
ness of the superior, for what reason is our Hierarch 
named by the Oracles, "Angel of the Sovereign 
Lord 6 ?" 

Section II. 
Now the statement, as I think, is not contrary 
to what has been before defined; for we say 
that the last lack the complete and pre-eminent 
Power of the more reverend Divisions ; for they par- 
ticipate in the partial and analogous, according to 
the one harmonious and binding fellowship of all 
things. For example, the rank of the holy Cheru- 
bim participates in higher wisdom and knowledge, 
but the Divisions of the Beings beneath them, par- 
ticipate, they also, in wisdom and knowledge, but 
nevertheless partially, as compared with them, and 
e Mai. ii. 7. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 45 

in a lower degree. For the participation of wisdom 
and knowledge throughout is common to all the 
minds which bear the image of God ; but the being 
near and first, or second and inferior, is not common, 
but, as has been determined for each in its own 
degree. This also one might safely define respect- 
ing all the Divine Minds ;* for, as the first possess 
abundantly the saintly characteristics of the inferior, 
so the last possess those of the superior, not indeed 
in the same degree, but subordinately. There is, 
then, as I think, nothing absurd, if the Word of 
God calls our Hierarch, Angel, since he participates, 
according to his own capacity, in the messenger 
characteristic of the Angels, and elevates himself, 
as far as attainable to men, to the likeness of their 

revealing office. 

Section III. 

But you will find that the Word of God calls 
gods, both the Heavenly Beings above us, and the 
most beloved of God, and holy men amongst us d , 
although the Divine Hiddenness is transcendently 
elevated and established above all, and no created 
Being can properly and wholly be said to be like 
unto It, except those intellectual and rational Beings 
who are entirely and wholly turned to Its Oneness 
as far as possible, and who elevate themselves in- 
cessantly to Its Divine illuminations, as far as attain- 
able, by their imitation of God, if I may so speak, 
according to their power, and are deemed worthy 
of the same divine name. 

d Exod. vii. I ; Ps. lxxxii. 6. 

4 6 Dionysius the Areopagite 


For what reason the Prophet Isaiah is said to have 
been purified by the Seraphim. 

Section I. 
Come, then, let us examine this as best we can, 
why the Seraphim is said to be sent to one of 
the Theologians; for some one may object, that 
not one of the inferior Angels, but he, the enrolled 
amongst the most reverend Beings, cleanses the 


Section II. 

Some, then, affirm that, according to the definition 
already given of the mutual relation of all the 
Minds, the Logione doe s not name one of the 
highest around God, as having come for the cleans- 
ing of the Theologian, but that some one of the 
Angels, placed over us as a sacred Minister of 
the Prophet's cleansing, is called by the same name 
as the Seraphim, on the ground that the removal 
of the faults spoken of, and the restoration of him 
who was cleansed for the Divine mission, was 
through fire; and they say that the legion 'speaks 
simply of one of the Seraphim, not one of those 
who are established around God, but one of the 
Powers set over us for the purpose of cleansing. 

Section III. 


Section III. 
Now another man brought forward to me a by 
no means foolish defence of the present posmon. 

f TK,^ T 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 47 

For he said that that great one, whoever he was,— 
the^ Angel who formed this vision for the purpose 
of teaching the theologian Divine things,— referred 
his own cleansing function to God, and after God, 
to the first working Hierarchy. And was not this 
statement certainly true? For he who said this 
affirmed that the supremely Divine Power in visiting 
all, advances and penetrates all irresistibly, and yet 
is invisible to all, not only as being superessentially 
elevated above all, but as secretly transmitting its 
providential energies to all ; yea, rather, it is mani- 
fested to all the intellectual Beings in due degree 
and by conducting Its own gift of Light to the 
most reverend Beings, through them, as first It 
distributes in due order to the subordinate, ac- 
cording to the power of each Division to bear the 
vision of God ; or to speak more strictly, and 
through familiar illustrations (for if they fall short 
of the Glory of God, Who is exalted above all 
yet they are more illustrating for us\ the distri- 
bution of the sun's ray passes with easy distribu- 
tion to first matter, as being more transparent than 
all, and, through it with greater clearness, lights 
up its own splendours; but when it strikes more 
dense materials, its distributed brilliancy becomes 
more obscure, from the inaptitude of the materials 
illuminated for transmission of the gift of Light 
and from this it is naturally contracted, so as to 
almost entirely exclude the passage of Light Again 
the heat of fire transmits itself chiefly to things that 
are more receptive, and yielding, and conductive 

.g Dionysius the Areopagite 

to assimilation to itself; but, as regards repellent 
O.POS,, ^stances eUHer it eaves none,^ 
verv 1 ght, trace of its tiery energy , 
when through substances favourable to .ts proper 
Ictton, it comes in contact with rtungs not con- 
"°?_ first it perchance makes things easily 
"a ed to heating hot, and through them heats 
proportionately either water or something else which 
I not easily heated. After the same rule, then 
, of Nature's well-ordered method, the regulation 
\ o aU good order, both visible and invisible, man, 
tt s supernatural the brightness of its own gift 
of Ligh in first manifestation to the most exalted 
Beitgs m abundant streams, and through these, 
fhe Beings after them partake of the Divine ray. 
For these, as knowing God first, and striving pre- 
Imn'nt after Divine virtue, and to become first- 
wTke s are deemed worthy of the power and energy 
? or the imitation of God, as attainable and these 
benevolently elevate the beings after them to an 
e q X as far as possible, by imparting ungrudg- 
nTy oWm the splendour which rests upon them- 
sles, and these again to the subordinate ad 

o?i the Heavenly Hierarchy. 49 

superior (is source) for each after it, by the fact, 
that the Divine rays are poured through it to that. 
All the remaining Angelic Beings, then, naturally 
regard the highest Order of the Heavenly Minds 
as source, after God, of every God-knowledge and 
God-imitation, since, through them, the supremely 
Divine illumination is distributed to all, and to us. 
Wherefore, they refer every holy energy of Divine 
imitation to God indeed as Cause, but to the first 
Godlike Minds, as first agents and teachers of things 

The first Order, then, of the holy Angels possesses, 
more than all, the characteristic of fire, and the 
streaming distribution of supremely Divine wisdom, 
and the faculty of knowing the highest science of 
the Divine illuminations, and the characteristic of 
Thrones, exhibiting their expansion for the reception 
of God ; and the ranks of the subordinate Beings 
possess indeed the empyrean, the wise, the knowing, 
the God-receptive, faculty, but subordinate^, and 
by looking to the first, and through them, as being 
deemed worthy of the Divine imitation in first oper- 
ation, are conducted to the attainable likeness of 
God. The aforesaid holy characteristics, then, which 
the Beings after them possess, through the first, they 
attribute to those Beings themselves, after God, as 

Section IV. 

He who said this, used to affirm, that this vision 
was shewn to the Theologian &, through one of the 
« Isa. vi. 


5° Dionysius the Areopagite 

holy and blessed Angels set over us, and that from 
his illuminating direction, he was elevated to that 
intellectual contemplation in which he saw the most 
exalted Beings seated (to speak symbolically) under 
God, and with God, and around * God, and the 
super-princejy i Eminence elevated unspeakably above 
them and all, seated on high in the midst of the 
superior Powers. The Theologian then learned, from 
the things seen, that, as compared with every super- 
essential pre-eminence, the Divine Being was seated 
incomparably above every visible and invisible power, 
yea, even that It is exalted above all, as the Reality 
of all things, as Absolute— not even like to the first 
of created Beings ;-further also, that It is source 
and essentiating Cause, and unalterable Fixity of 
the undissolved continuance of all things, from 
Which is both the being and the well-being of the 
most exalted Powers themselves. Then he revealed 
that the Godlike powers of the most holy Seraphim 
themselves, whose sacred appellation signifies the 
Fiery, concerning which we shall shortly speak as 
best we can, conducted the elevations of the empy- 
rean power to the Divine likeness. And, the holy 
Theologian, by viewing the description of free and 
most exalted elevation of the sixfold wings to the 
Divine Being in first, middle, and last conceptions, 
and further, their endless feet and many faces, and 
their extended wings— one under their feet, and the 
other over their faces, as seen in vision, and the 
perpetual movement of their middle wings— was 
h John i. i. i Or super-original. 

07i the Heavenly Hierarchy. 5 1 

brought to the intelligible knowledge of the things 
seen, since there was manifested to him the power 
of the most exalted minds for deep penetration and 
contemplation, and the sacred reverence which they 
have, supermundanely, for the bold and courageous 
and unattainable scrutiny into higher and deeper 
mysteries j and of the incessant and high-flying 
perpetual movement of their Godlike energies in 
due proportion. But he was also taught the hidden 
mysteries of that supremely Divine and much es- 
teemed Hymn of Praise— whilst the Angel who 
formed the vision imparts, as far as possible, his 
own sacred knowledge to the Theologian. He also 
taught him this, that the participation, as far as 
attainable, in the supremely Divine and radiant 
purity, is a purification to the pure however pure; 
and it being accomplished from the very Godhead 
by most exalted causes, for all the sacred Minds by 
a superessential hiddenness, is in a manner more 
clear, and exhibits and distributes itself, in a higher 
degree, to the highest powers around It ; but with 
regard to the second, or us, the lowest mental powers, 
as each is, distant from, as regards the Divine like-^ 
ness, so It contracts its brilliant illumination to the 
single unknowable of its own hiddenness. And it - 
illuminates the second, severally, through the first ; 
and, if one must speak briefly, it is firstly brought 
from hiddenness to manifestation through the first 
powers. This, then, the Theologian was taught by 
the Angel who was leading him to Light— that puri- 
fication, and all the supremely Divine operations, 


5 2 Dionysius the Areopagite 

illuminating through the first Beings, are distributed 
to all the rest, according to the relation of each for 
the deifying participations. Wherefore he reasonably 
attributed to the Seraphim, after God, the character- 
istic of purification by fire. There is nothing, then, 
absurd, if the Seraphim is said to purify the Prophet 
For, as God purifies all, by being cause of every puri- 
fication, yea, rather (for I use a familiar illustration) 
just as our Hierarch, when purifying or enlightening 
through his Leitourgoi or Priests, is said himself 
to purify and enlighten, since the Orders consecrated 
through him attribute to him their own proper sacred 
operations ; so also the Angel who effected the purifi- 
cation of the Theologian attributes his own purifying 
science and power to God, indeed, as Cause, but 
to the Seraphim as first-operating Hierarch ; as any 
one might say with Angelic reverence, whilst teaching 
one who was being purified by him, " There is a pre- 
eminent Source, and Essence, and Worker, and 
Cause of the cleansing wrought upon you from me, 
He Who brings both the first Beings into Being, 
and holds them together by their fixity around 
Himself, and keeps them without change and with- 
out fall, moving them to the first participations of 
His own Providential energies (for this, He Who 
taught me these things used to say, shews the mis- 
sion of the Seraphim), but as Hierarch and Leader 
after God, the Marshal of the most exalted Beings, 
from whom I was taught to purify after the ex- 
ample of God — this is he, who cleanses thee 
y y through me, through whom the Cause and Creator 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 53 

of all cleansing brought forth His own provident 
energies from the Hidden even to us." These 
things, then, he taught me, and I impart them 
to thee. Let it be a part of thy intellectual and 
discriminating skill, either, to acquit each of the 
causes assigned^ from objection, and to honour this 
before the other as having likelihood and good 
reason, and perhaps, the truth ; or, to find out from 
yourself something more allied to the real truth, or 
to learn from another ; (God, of course, giving ex- 
pression, and Angels supplying it ;) and to reveal to 
us, the friends of Angels, a view more luminous if 
it should be so, and to me specially welcome. 


What the traditional number of the Angels signifies. 
This also is worthy, in my opinion, of intellectual 
attention, that the tradition of the Oracles concerning 
the Angels affirms that they are thousand thousands, 
and myriad myriads, accumulating and multiplying, 
to themselves, the supreme limits of our numbers, 
and, through these, shewing clearly, that the ranks 
of the Heavenly Beings cannot be numbered by us. 
For many are the blessed hosts of the supermundane 
minds, surpassing the weak and contracted measure- 
ment of our material number, and being definitely 
known by their own supermundane and heavenly 
intelligence and science alone, which is given to 
them in profusion by the supremely Divine and 
Omniscient Framer of Wisdom, and essentiating 

54 Dionysius the Areopagite 

Cause and connecting Force, and encompassing 
Term of all created things together J. 


What are the morphic likenesses of the Angelic 
Powers ? what the fiery ? what the anthromor- 
phic? what are the eyes? what the nostrils? 
what the ears? what the mouths? what the 
touch? what the eyelids? what the eyebrows? 
what the prime ? what the teeth ? what the 
shoulders? what the elboivs and the hands? 
what the heart? what the breasts? what the 
back? what the feet? what the wings? what 
the nakedness ? what the robe ? what the 
shining raiment? what the sacerdotal? what 
the girdles ? what the rods ? what the spears ? 
what the battle - axes ? what the measuring 
lines ? what the winds ? what the clouds ? what 
the brass ? what the electron ? what the choirs ? 
what the clapping of hands ? what the coiours 
of different stones ? what the appearance of the 
lion? what the appearance of the ox? what the 
appearafice of the eagle ? what the horses ? what 
the varieties of coloured horses ? what the rivers ? 
what the chariots ? what the wheels ? what the 
so-called joy of the Angels? 

Section I. 
Come, then, let us at last, if you please, rest our 
mental vision from the strain of lofty contemplation, 
befitting Angels, and descend to the divided and 
manifold breadth of the many-shaped variety of the 
Angelic forms, and then return analytically from the 
J Dan. vii. jo. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 55 

same, as from images, to the simplicity of the 
Heavenly Minds. But let this first be made plain 
to you, that the explanations of the sacredly de- 
picted likenesses represent the same ranks of the 
Heavenly Beings as sometimes ruling, and, at other 
times, as being ruled; and the last, ruling, and 
the first, being ruled ; and the same, as has 
been said, having first, and middle, and last powers 
-without introducing anything absurd into the de- 
scription, according to the following method of 
explanation. For if indeed we were to say that 
some are ruled by those above them, and then 
that they rule the same, and that those above, 
whilst ruling those below, are ruled by those same 
who are being ruled, the thing would manifestly 
be absurd, and mixed with all sorts of confusion. 
But if we say that the same rule and are ruled, 
but no longer the self-same, or from the self-same, 
but that each same is ruled by those before, and 
rules those below, one might say appropriately that 
the Divinely pictured presentations in the Oracles 
may sometimes attribute, properly and truly, the 
very same, both to first, and middle, and last powers. 
Now the straining elevation to things above, and 
their being drawn unswervingly around each other, 
as being guardians of their own proper powers, and 
that they participate in the providential faculty to 
provide for those below them by mutual communi- 
cation, befit truly all the Heavenly Beings, although 
some, pre-eminently and wholly, as we have often 
said, and others partially and subordinately. 

5 6 Dionysiics the Areopagtte 

Section II. 
But we must keep our discourse within bounds, 
and must search, in our first explanation of the types' 
for what reason the Word of God prefers the sacred 
description of fire, in preference to almost every 
other*. You will find it, then, representing not 
only wheels of fire, but also living creatures of fire 1 , 
and men, flashing, as it were, like lightning™, and 
placing around the Heavenly Beings themselves 
heaps of coals of fire n , and rivers of flame flowing 
with irresistible force ; and also it says that the 
thrones are of fire*; and that the most exalted 
Seraphim glow with fire, it shews from their appel- 
lation, and it attributes the characteristic and energy 
of fire* to them, and throughout, above and below, 
it prefers pre-eminently the representation by the 
image of fire. I think, then, the similitude of fire r 
denotes the likeness of the Heavenly Minds to God 
in the highest degree; for the holy theologians fre- 
quently describe the superessential and formless 
essence by fire, as having many likenesses, if I may 
be permitted to say so, of the supremely Divine 
property, as in things visible. For the sensibl e 
I i fire is, so to speak, in everything, and passes through 
everything unmingled, and springs from all, and 
whilst all-luminous, is, as it were, hidden, un- 
known, in its essential nature, when there is no 

* Dan. vii. 9. 1 Ezek. i. 13, 16. m Ibid . |v|> 

* Ibid. x. 2. o Dan> vil JOm p Ibi(] 9 q Isa y . ^ 7 

* Le Cratyle de Platon, i. 302. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 57 

material lying near it upon which it may shew its 
proper energy. It is both uncontrollable and in- 
visible, self-subduing all things, and bringing under 
its own energy anything in which it may happen 
to be; varying, imparting itself to all things near 
it, whatever they may be; renewing by its rousing 
heat, and giving light by its uncovered illuminations; 
invincible, unmingled, separating, unchangeable, 
elevating, penetrating, lofty; subject to no grovelling 
inferiority, ever moving, self-moving, moving other 
things, comprehending, incomprehended, needing 
no other, imperceptibly increasing itself, displaying 
its own majesty to the materials receiving it; ener- 
getic, powerful, present to all invisibly, unobserved, 
seeming not to be, and manifesting itself suddenly 
according to its own proper nature by friction, as it 
were by a sort of seeking, and again flying away im- 
palpably, undiminished in all the joyful distributions 
of itself. And one might find many characteristics 
of fire, appropriate to display the supremely Divine 
Energy, as in sensible images. The Godly-wise, 
then, knowing this, depict the celestial Beings from 
fire, shewing their Godlikeness, and imitation of 
God, as far as attainable. 

Section III. 

But they also depict them under the likeness 
of men 8 , on account of the intellectual faculty, 
and their having powers of looking upwards, and 

8 Gen. xxxii. 24. 

58 Dionysius the Areopagite 

their straight and erect form, and their innate faculty 
of ruling and guiding, and whilst being least, in 
physical strength as compared with the other powers 
of irrational creatures, yet ruling over all by their 
superior power of mind, and by their dominion in 
consequence of rational science, and their innate 
unslavishness and indomitableness of soul. It is 
possible, then, I think, to find within each of the 
i many parts of our body harmonious images of the 
*( Heavenly Powers, by affirming that the powers of 
vision* denote the most transparent elevation to- 
wards the Divine lights, and again, the tender, 
and liquid, and not repellent, but sensitive, and 
pure, and unfolded, reception, free from all passion, 
of the supremely Divine illuminations. 

Now the discriminating powers of the nostrils 
denote the being able to receive, as far as attainable, 
the sweet-smelling largess beyond conception, and 
to distinguish accurately things which are not such, 
and to entirely reject". 

The powers of the ears denote the participation 
and conscious reception of the supremely Divine 

The powers of taste denote the fulness of the 
intelligible nourishments, and the reception of the 
Divine and nourishing streams x . 

The powers of touch denote the skilful discrimi- 
nation of that which is suitable or injurious ?. 

* Ezek. i. 18 ; Ibid. ix. 5. u Gen. viii. 21. 

* Ibid. xix. 3. J Ibid, xxxii. 25. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 59 

The eyelids and eyebrows denote the guarding 
of the conceptions which see God. 

The figures of manhood and youth denote the 
perpetual bloom and vigour of life \ 

The teeth denote the dividing of the nourishing 
perfection given to us ; for each intellectual Being 
divides and multiplies, by a provident faculty, the 
unified conception given to it by the more Divine 
for the proportionate elevation of the inferior. 

The shoulders and elbows a , and further, the 
hands b , denote the power of making, and operating, 
and accomplishing. 

The heart again is a symbol of the Godlike life, 
dispersing its own life-giving power to the objects 
of its forethought, as beseems the good. 

The chest again denotes the invincible and pro- 
tective faculty of the life-giving distribution, as being 
placed above the heart. 

The back, the holding together the whole pro- 
ductive powers of life. 

The feet d denote the moving and quickness, and 
skilfulness of the perpetual movement advancing 
towards Divine things. Wherefore also the Word 
of God arranged the feet of the holy Minds under 
their wings e ; for the wing displays the elevating 
quickness and the heavenly progress towards higher 
things, and the superiority to every grovelling thing 
by reason of the ascending, and the lightness of 
the wings denotes their being in no respect earthly, 
z Mark xvi. 5. a Dan. x. 6. b Ibid. 10. 

Ibid. 5. d Isaiah vi. 2. e Ezek. i. 6. 

60 Dionysius the Areopagite 

but undefiledly and lightly raised to the sublime; 
and the naked and unshod denotes the unfettered, 
agile, and unrestrained, and free from all external 
superfluity, and assimilation to the Divine simplicity, 
as far as attainable. 

Section IV. 
But since again the simple and variegated wis- 
dom f both clothes the naked, and distributes cer- 
tain implements to them to carry, come, let us 
unfold, according to our power, the sacred garments 
and implements of the celestial Minds. The shining 
and glowing raiment, I think, signifies the Divine 
likeness after the image of fire, and their enlighten- 
ing *, in consequence of their repose in Heaven, 
where is the Light, and their complete illuminating 
intelligibly, and their being illuminated intellec 
tually h ; and the sacerdotal robe denotes their con- 
ducting to Divine and mystical visions, and the 
consecration of their whole life 1 . And the girdles 
signify the guard over their productive powers, and 
the collected habit of being turned uniformly to 
It, and being drawn around Itself by an unbroken 
identity, in a well-ordered circle. 

Section V. 
The rods signify the kingly and directing faculty, 
making all things straight The spears k and the 
battle-axes denote the dividing of things unlike, 

' Eph. iii. io. « John xx. 12. h See Maximus D.N. 

c. 4. s. 1. * Dan. x. 5. k Gen. iii. 24. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 61 

and the sharp and energetic and drastic operation 
of the discriminating powers. The geometrical 
and technical 1 " articles denote the founding, and 
building, and completing, and whatever else belongs 
to the elevating and guiding forethought for the 
subordinate Orders. But sometimes the implements 
assigned to the holy Angels are the symbols of 
God's judgments to ourselves; some, representing 
His correcting 11 instruction or avenging righteous- 
ness others, freedom from peril, or end of edu- 
cation, or resumption of former well-being, or 
addition of other gifts, small or great, sensible or 
intelligible p. Nor would a discriminating mind, in 
any case whatever, have any difficulty in properly 
adapting things visible to things invisible. 

Section VI. 
But the fact that they are named winds * denotes 
their rapid action, passing almost instantaneously to 
all things, and their transporting movement in pass- 
ing from above to below, and again from below to 
above, their elevating the second to the - height 
above, and moving the first to a common and pro- 
vident advance of the inferior Orders. But perhaps 
some one would say that the appellation of wind, 
to the aerial spirit, also denotes the Divine likeness 
of the Heavenly Minds; for this also bears a like- 
ness and type of the supremely Divine energy (as 

1E zek.xi. 3 . -Amosvii.7. » N™ 3 i; 

o 2 Kings xxiv.16. IPs. civ. 3, 

Dan. vii. 2. 

62 Dionysius the Areopagite 

we have demonstrated more fully in the symbolic 
theology, in our explanation of the four elements) 
in accordance with the moving and life-producing, 
and the rapid and resistless development of Nature', 
and the Hiddenness of the moving sources and ter- 
minations to us unknown and invisible. For He 
says, "Thou knowest not whence it cometh r nor 
whither it goeth." But also the Word of God attri- 
butes to them the appearance of a cloud 8 , signifying, 
through this, that the holy minds are filled super- 
mundanely with the hidden Light, receiving the 
first manifestation without boasting over it as such, 
which they distribute ungrudgingly to the second,' 
as a secondary manifestation, and in proportion to 
capacity ; yea, further, that the productive, and life- 
producing, and increasing, and perfecting power is 
enshrined in them, after the fashion of the intel- 
ligible production of showers *, which summons the 
receptive womb of the earth, by fruitful rains, to 
the life-giving pangs of birth. 

Section VII. 
Also, the Word of God attributes to the Heavenly 
Beings a likeness to Brass*, Electron 1 , and many- 
coloured stones. Electron, as being partly like gold, 
partly like silver, denotes the incorruptible, as in 
gold, and unexpended, and undiminished, and spot- 
less brilliancy, and the brightness, as in silver, and 
a luminous and heavenly radiance. But to the 

r John iii. 8. a Ezek. 10. 4. » V q V t^ btfpoaKiav. 

u Ezek. xi. 3. x jbid. viii. 2. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 63 

Brass, according to the reasons assigned, must be 
attributed either the likeness of fire or that of gold. 

We must consider that the many-coloured appear- 
ances of stones denote either as white, the luminous ; 
or as red, the fiery ; or as yellow, the golden ; or as 
green, the youthful and the full grown ; and within 
each likeness you will find an explanation which 
teaches the inner meaning of the typical images. 

But since, I think, according to our power, this 
has been sufficiently said, let us pass to the sacred 
explanation of the Divine representations of the 
Heavenly Minds through wild beasts*. We must 
consider that the shape of a Lion 2 signifies the 
leading, and robust, and indomitable, and the assi- 
milation, as far as possible, to the unutterable God- 
head, by the concealment of the intellectual foot- 
prints*, and by the mystically modest covering of 
the path, leading to It, during Divine illumination. 

Section VIII. 

The Image of the Ox b denotes the strong and the 
mature, turning up the intellectual furrows for the 
reception of the heavenly and productive showers; 
and the Horns, the guarding and indomitable. 

The representation of the Eagle denotes the 
kingly, and soaring, and swift in flight, and quick- 
ness in search of the nourishment which makes 

y Ezek. i. 10. z Ibid. 

^ The Lion was said to erase his footsteps by his tail. 
b Ezek. i. 10. c ibid. 

6 4 Dionysius the Areopagite 

strong, and wariness, and agility, and cleverness • 
and the unimpeded, straight, and unflinching gaze 
towards the bounteous and brilliant splendour of the 
Divine rays of the sun, with the robust extension 
of the visual powers. 

That of Horses represents obedience and docility 
and of those who are white, brilliancy, and as espe- 
cially congenial to the Divine Light; but of those 
who are dark blue, the Hidden; and of those red, 
the fiery and vigorous ; and of the piebald, the 
uniting of the extremes by the power passing through 
them, and joining the first to the second, and the 
second to the first, reciprocally and considerately 

Now if we did not consult the proportion of our 
discourse, we might, not inappropriately, adapt the 
particular characteristics of the aforesaid living crea- 
tures, and all their bodily representations to the 
Heavenly Powers, upon the principle of dissimilar 
similitudes; for instance, their appearance of anger 
to intellectual manliness, of which anger is the re- 
motest echo, and their desire, to the Divine love • 
and to speak summarily, referring all the sensible 
perceptions, and many parts of irrational beings, to 
the immaterial conceptions and unified Powers' of 
the Heavenly Beings. Now not only is this suffi- 
cient for the wise, but even an explanation of one 
of the dissimilar representations would be sufficient 
for the accurate description of similar things, after 
the same fashion. 

on the Heavenly Hierarchy. 65 

Section IX. 

But we must examine the fact that rivers d are 
spoken of, and Wheels e and Chariots f attached to 
the Heavenly Beings. The rivers of fire signify the 
supremely Divine streams furnishing to them an 
ungrudging and incessant flow, and nourishing the 
productive powers of life j the chariots, the con- 
joined communion of those of the same rank; the 
wheels being winged, and advancing without turning 
and without deviation, the power of their advancing 
energy within a straight and direct path, towards 
the same unflinching and straight swoop g of their 
every intellectual track, supermundanely straight and 
direct way. Also it is possible to explain, after an- 
other mystical meaning, the sacred description of 
the intellectual wheels j for the name Gel, Gel, is 
given to them, as the theologian says. This shews, 
according to the Hebrew tongue, revolutions and 
revelations. For the Empyrean and Godlike wheels 
have revolutions, indeed, by their perpetual move- 
ment around the Good Itself; but revelations, by 
the manifestation of things hidden, and by the ele- 
vation of things at our feet, and -by the descending 
procession of the sublime illuminations to things 
below. There remains for accurate explanation, 
the statement respecting the rejoicing of the Hea- 
venly Orders h ; for they are utterly incapable of 
our impassioned pleasure. Now they are said to 

d Dan. vii. 10. e Ezek. x. 9. f 2 Kings ii. 11. 

e otna{l). h Luke xv. 10. 

66 Dionysius the Areopagite, (5^. 

rejoice with God over the discovery of what was 
lost, as befits their Divine good nature, and that 
Godlike and ungrudging rejoicing over the care and 
salvation of those who are turned to God ; and that 
joy, beyond description, of which also holy men often 
partake, whilst the deifying illuminations of the Deity 
rest upon them. Let it suffice, then, to have said this 
much concerning the Divine representations, which, 
no doubt, falls short of their accurate explanation, 
but which will prevent us, I think, from being ser- 
vilely entangled in the resemblance of the types. 
But if you should say that we have not mentioned 
in order the whole Angelic Powers, or operations, 
or likenesses, depicted in the Oracles, we answer in 
truth, that we do not possess the supermundane 
V science of some; and further, in regard to them, 
we have need of another to conduct to light and to 
reveal. Other things, however, as being parallel 
to the things said, we have omitted, out of regard 
to the symmetry of the discourse ; and the hidden- 
ness, beyond our capacity, we have honoured by 

St. Michael and All Angels, 1898. 



To my Fellow Presbyter Timothy. 


What is the traditional view of the Ecclesiastical 
Hierarchy and what is its purpose $ 

Section I. 
We must, then, most pious of pious sons, demon- 
strate from the supermundane and most sacred 
Oracles and traditions, that ours is a Hierarchy 
of the inspired and Divine and Deifying science, 
and of operation, and of consecration, for those 
who have been initiated with the initiation of the 
sacred revelation derived from the hierarchical mys- 
teries. See, however, that you do not put to scorn 
things most holy (Holy of Holies a ) ; but rather 
treat them reverently, and you will honour the 
things of the hidden God by intellectual and obscure 
researches, carefully guarding them from the par- 
ticipation and defilement of the uninitiated, and 
reverently sharing holy things with the holy alone, 
by a holy enlightenment. For thus, as the Word 
of God b has taught us who feast at His Banquet, 
even Jesus Himself— the most supremely Divine 

a To"A7ta tup 'hyivv. b ©eoXo^ia. 

68 Dionysius the Areopagite 

Mind and superessential, the Source and Essence, 
and most supremely Divine Power of every Hier- 
archy and Sanctification and Divine operation — 
illuminates the blessed Beings who are superior 
to us, in a manner more clear, and at the same 
time more intellectual, and assimilates them to His 
own Light, as far as possible; and by our love 
of things beautiful elevated to Him, and which 
elevates us, folds together our many diversities, and 
after perfecting into a uniform and Divine life and 
habit and operation, holily bequeaths the power of 
the Divine Priesthood ; from which by approaching to 
the holy exercise of the priestly office, we ourselves 
become nearer to the Beings above us, by assimi- 
lation, according to our power, to their abiding and 
unchangeable holy steadfastness ; and thus by look- 
ing upwards to the blessed and supremely Divine c 
self of Jesus, and reverently gazing upon whatever 
we are permitted to see, and illuminated with the 
knowledge of the visions, we shall be able to be- 
come, as regards the science of Divine mysteries, 
purified and purifiers ; images of Light, and workers 
with God, perfected and perfecting. 

Section II. 

Then what is the Hierarchy of the Angels d and 
Archangels, and of supermundane Principalities and 
Authorities, Powers and Lordships, and Divine 
Thrones, or of the Beings of the same ranks as 
the Thrones— which the Word of God declares to 

o owtV- avyr}v. or apx"hv. d See Epistle to Trallians. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 69 

be near, and always about God, and with e God, 
naming them in the Hebrew tongue Cherubim and 
Seraphim — by pondering the sacred ranks and di- 
visions of their Orders and Hierarchies, you will 
find in the books we have written — not as befits 
their dignity but to the best of our ability — and 
as the Theology of the most holy Scriptures guided, 
when they extolled their Hierarchy. Nevertheless, it 
is necessary to say this, that both that, and every 
Hierarchy extolled now by us, has one and the same 
power, throughout the whole Hierarchical trans- 
action ; and that the Hierarch himself, according 
to his essence, and analogy, and rank, is initiated in 
Divine things, and is deified and imparts to the 
subordinates, according to the meetness of each 
for the sacred deification which comes to him from 
God ; also that the subordinates follow the superior, 
and elevate the inferior towards things in advance ; 
and that some go before, and, as far as possible, 
give the lead to others; and that each, as far as 
may be, participates in the truly Beautiful, and 
Wise, and Good, through this the inspired and 
sacerdotal harmony. 

But the Beings and ranks above us, of whom 
we have already made a reverent mention, are both 
incorporeal, and their Hierarchy is both intelligible 
and supermundane ; but let us view our Hierarchy, 
comformably to ourselves, abounding in the variety 
of the sensible symbols, by which, in proportion 
to our capacity, we are conducted, hierarchically 
e John i. 1. 

y Dionysius the Areopagite 

according to our measure, to the uniform deification 
—God and Divine virtue. They indeed, as minds, 
think, according to laws laid down for themselves ; 
but we are led by sensible figures to the Divine 
contemplations, as is possible to us. And, to speak 
truly, there is One, to Whom all the Godlike aspire, 
but they do not partake uniformly of this One 
and the Same, but as the Divine balance distributes 
to each the meet inheritance. Now these things 
have been treated more systematically in the Treatise 
concerning "Intelligible and Sensible f ." But now 
I will attempt to describe our Hierarchy, both its 
source and essence, as best I can ; invoking Jesus, 
the source and Perfecting of all Hierarchies. 

Section III. 
Every Hierarchy, then, is, according to our august 
tradition, the whole account of the sacred things 
falling under it, a most complete summary of the 
sacred rites of this or that Hierarchy, as the case 
may be. Our Hierarchy, then, is called, and is, 
the comprehensive system of the whole sacred rites 
included within it, according to which the divine 
Hierarch, being initiated, will have the communi- 
cation of all the most sacred things within himself, 
as chief* of Hierarchy. For as he who speaks of 
Hierarchy speaks of the order of the whole sacred 
rites collectively, so he, who mentions Hierarch, 
denotes the inspired and godly man— the skilled 
in all sacred knowledge— in whom the whole Hier- 
' Ap. C. viii. 1 6. g eVc^o*. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 7 1 

archy is clearly completed and recognized within 

Head of this Hierarchy is the Fountain of life, 
the Essence of Goodness, the one Triad, Cause of 
things that be, from Which both being and well- 
being come to things that be, by reason of good- 
ness 11 . Of this most supremely Divine blessedness 
— exalted beyond all, the threefold Monad, the 
really Being, — the Will, inscrutable to us, but known 
to Itself, is the rational preservation of beings 
amongst us and above us ; but that (preservation) 
cannot otherwise take place, except those who are 
being saved are being deified. Now the assimi- 
lation to, and union with, God, as far as attain- 
able, is deification. And this is the common goal 
of every Hierarchy, — the clinging love towards God 
and Divine things divinely and uniformly minis- 
tered; and previous to this, the complete and 
unswerving removal of things contrary, the know- 
ledge of things as they are in themselves ; the 
vision and science of sacred truth ; the inspired 
communication of the uniform perfection of the 
One Itself, as far as attainable; the banquet of 
contemplation, nourishing intelligibly, and deifying 
every man elevated towards it. 

Section IV. 
Let us affirm, then, that the supremely Divine 
Blessedness, the ' essential Deity, the Source of 

h Creation through goodness — not necessity. 
1 77 <puati ®e6rr]S. 

72 Diony sites the Areopagite 

deification, from Which comes the deification of 
those deified, bequeathed, by Divine Goodness, the 
Hierarchy, for preservation, and deification of all 
rational and intellectual Beings. And to the super- 
mundane and blessed inheritances there is be- 
queathed something more immaterial and intellec- 
tual (for Almighty God does not move them to 
things divine, from without, but intelligibly, since 
they are illuminated as to the most Divine will 
from within, with brilliancy pure and immaterial), 
but to us — that which has been bequeathed to them, 
uniformly, and enveloped, is bequeathed from the 
Divinely transmitted Oracles, in a variety and mul- 
titude of divisible symbols, as we are able to re- 
ceive it. For the Divinely transmitted Oracles are 
essence of our Hierarchy. And we affirm that these 
Oracles — all such as were given from our godly 
initiators in inspired Letters of the Word of God k — 
are most august ; and further, whatever our leaders 
have revealed to us from the same holy men, by a 
less material initiation, and already akin, as it were, 
to the Heavenly Hierarchy, from mind to mind, 
through the medium of speech, corporeal, indeed, 
but nevertheless more immaterial, without writing. 
Nor did the inspired Hierarchs transmit 1 these 
things, in conceptions clear to the commonalty of 
worshippers, but in sacred symbols. For it is not 
every one that is hallowed ; nor, as the Oracles 
affirm, does knowledge belong to all m . 

fc ay loypdcpois 9co\oyiKais A(\tois. 
1 Mark iv. II. m I Cor. viii. 7. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 73 

Section V. 
Necessarily, then, the first leaders of our Hier- 
archy, after having been filled themselves with the 
sacred gift, from the superessential Godhead, and 
sent, by the supremely Divine Goodness, to extend 
the same gift successively, and, as godly, earnestly 
desiring themselves the elevation and deification of 
those after them, presented to us— by their written and 
unwritten revelations-in accordance with their sacred 
injunctions, things supercelestial, by sensible images, 
the enfolded, by variety and multitude, and things Di- 
vine, by things human, and things immaterial, by things 
material, and the superessential, by things belong- 
ing to us. Nor did they do this merely on account 
of the unhallowed, to whom it is not permitted even 
to touch the symbols, but because our Hierarchy is, 
as I said, a kind of symbol adapted to our condition' 
which needs things sensible, for our more Divine 
elevation from these to things intelligible. Neverthe- 
less the reasons of the symbols have been revealed 
to the Divine initiators, which it is not permitted to 
explain to those who are yet being initiated, know- 
ing that the Lawgivers of things divinely transmitted 
deliberately arranged the Hierarchy in well-estab- 
lished and unconfused ranks, and in proportionate 
and sacred distributions of that which was conve- 
nient to each, according to fitness. Wherefore 
trusting in thy sacred promises (for it is a pious 
duty to recall them to thy recollection) — that 
since every Hierarchical sacred word is of binding 

74 Dionysius the Areopagite 

force, thou wilt not communicate to any other but 
those Godlike initiators of the same rank with thy- 
self, and wilt persuade them to promise, according 
to hierarchical regulation, to touch pure things 
purely, and to communicate the mysteries of God 
to the godly alone, and things perfect to those 
capable of perfection, and things altogether most 
holy to the holy, I have entrusted this Divine gift 
to thee, in addition to many other Hierarchical 


I. Concerning things done in Illumination. 

We have, then, reverently affirmed that this is 
the purpose of our Hierarchy, viz., our assimilation 
and union with God, as far as attainable. And, 
as the Divine Oracles teach, we shall attain this 
only by the love and the religious performance of 
the most worshipful Commandments. For He says : 
"He* that loveth Me will keep My Word, and 
My Father will love him, and we will come unto 
him, and will make Our abode with him." What, 
then, is source of the religious performance of the 
most august commandments? Our preparation for 
the restitution of the supercelestial rest, which forms 
the habits of our souls into an aptitude for the 
reception of the other sacred sayings and doings °, 
the transmission of our holy and most divine re- 
generation p. For, as our illustrious Leader used 

n John xiv. 23. ibid. i. 13. p ibid. iii. 5. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 75 

to say, the very first movement of the mind towards 
Divine things is the willing reception of Almighty 
God, but the very earliest step of the religious 
reception towards the religious performance of the 
Divine commandments is the unutterable operation 
of our being 1 from God. For if our r being from 
God is the Divine engendering, never would he 
know, and certainly never perform, any of the Divine 
instructions, who had not had his beginning to be 
in God. To speak after the manner of men, must 
we not first begin to be, and then to do, our affairs ? 
Since he, who does not exist at all, has neither 
movement nor even beginning; since he, who in 
some way exists, alone does, or suffers, those things 
suitable to his own nature. This, then, as I think, 
is clear. Let us next contemplate the Divine sym- 
bols of the birth in God. And I pray, let no 
uninitiated person approach the sight 8 ; for neither 
is it without danger to gaze upon the glorious 
rays of the sun with weak eyes, nor is it without 
pertf to put our hand to things above us. For 
right was the priesthood of the Law, when rejecting 
Osias *, because he put his hand to sacred things ; 
and Korah u , because to things sacred above his 
capacity; and Nadab x and Abihu, because they 
treated things, within their own province, unholily. 

q rov ehai Oetws. r See Baptismal Offices. 

9 C. 2. s. 62. t 2 Chron. xxvi. 16—21. u Num. xvi. 

J — 33- x Ibid- iil- 4. 

76 Dionysius the Areopagite 

II. Mysterio?i of Illumination. 
Section I. 
The Hierarch, then, wishing * that all men what- 
soever should be saved by their assimilation towards 
God, and come to recognition of truth, proclaims 
to all the veritable Good News, that God being 
compassionate towards those upon earth, out of 
His own proper and innate goodness, deigned Him- 
self to come to us with outstretched arms, by reason 
of loving-kindness towards men ; and, by the union 
with Him, to assimilate, like as by fire, things that 
have been made one, in proportion to their aptitude 
for deification. "For as many as received Him, 
to them gave He power 2 to become children of 
God — to those who believe on His Name, who were 
begotten, not of bloods, nor of will of flesh, but 

of God a ." 

Section II. 

He, who has felt a religious longing to participate 
in these truly supermundane gifts, comes to some 
one of the initiated, and persuades him to act as 
his conductor to the Hierarch. He then professes 
wholly to follow the teaching that shall be given 
to him, and prays him to undertake the superin- 
tendence of his introduction, and of all his after 
life. Now he, though religiously longing for his 
salvation, when he measures human infirmity against 
the loftiness of the undertaking, is suddenly seized 

y 1 Tim. ii. 4. z John i. 12, 13. 

a Coptic Con. II. 40 ; Ap. C. lib. viii. c. 38. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 7 7 

with a shivering and sense of incapacity, neverthe- 
less, at last, he agrees, with a good grace, to do 
what is requested, and takes and leads him to the 
chief Hierarch. 

Section III. 
He, then, when with joy he has received, as the 
sheep upon his shoulders, the two men, and has 
first worshipped, glorifies with a mental thanksgiving 
and bodily prostration the One beneficent Source b , 
from Which, those who are being called, are called, 
and those who are being saved, are saved. 

Section IV. 
Then collecting a full religious assembly into 
the sacred place, for co-operation, and common 
rejoicing over the man's salvation, and for thanks- 
giving for the Divine Goodness, he first chants a 
certain hymn, found in the Oracles, accompanied 
by the whole body of the Church; and after this, 
when he has kissed the holy table, he advances 
to the man before him, and demands of him, what 
has brought him here? 

Section V. 

When the man, out of love to God, has confessed, 
according to the instruction of his sponsor, his ungod- 
liness , his ignorance of the really beautiful, his in- 
sufficiency for the life in God, and prays, through his 
holy mediation, to attain to God and Divine things, he 
(the Hierarch) testifies to him, that his approach ought 
to be entire, as to God Who is All Perfect, and without 

b Phil. ii. 13. c iQeoT-qra, Matt. vi. 24 ; Eph. iv. 5. 

7 8 Dionysius the Areopagite 

blemish ; and when he has expounded to him fully the 
godly course of life, and has demanded of him, if he 
would thus live, — after his promise he places his right 
hand upon his head, and when he has sealed him, 
commands the priests to register the man and his v 

Section VI. 
When these have enrolled the names, he makes 
a holy prayer, and when the whole Church have 
completed this with him, he looses his sandals, and 
removes his clothing, through the Leitourgoi. Then, 
when he has placed him facing the west and beating 
his hands, averted towards the same quarter, he 
commands him thrice to breathe scorn upon Satan, 
and further, to profess the words of the renunciation. 
When he has witnessed his threefold renunciation, 
he turns him back to the east, after he has professed 
this thrice ; and when he has looked up to heaven, 
and extended his hands thitherward, he commands 
him to be enrolled under Christ, and all the Divinely 
transmitted Oracles of God. When the man has 
done this, he attests again for him his threefold 
profession, and again, when he has thrice professed, 
after prayer, he gives thanks, and lays his hand upon 

Section VII. 
When the Deacons have entirely unclothed him, 
the Priests bring the holy oil of the anointing. Then 
he begins the anointing, through the threefold seal- 
ing, and for the rest assigns the man to the Priests, 
for- the anointing of his whole body, while himself 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy \ 79 

advances to the mother of filial adoption, and when 
he has purified the water within it by the holy 
invocations, and perfected it by three cruciform 
effusions of the altogether most pure Muron d , and 
by the same number of injections of the all holy 
Muron, and has invoked the sacred melody of the 
inspiration of the God-rapt Prophets, he orders the 
man to be brought forward; and when one of the 
Priests, from the register, has announced him e and 
his surety, he is conducted by the Priests near the 
water to the hand of the Hierarch, being led by 
the hand to him. Then the Hierarch, standing 
above, when the Priests have again called aloud 
near the Hierarch within the water the name of 
the initiated, the Hierarch dips him three times, 
invoking the threefold f Subsistence of the Divine 
Blessedness, at the three immersions and emersions 
of the initiated. The Priests then take him, and 
entrust him to the Sponsor and guide of his intro- 
duction; and when they, in conjunction with him, 
have cast over the initiated appropriate clothing, 
they lead him again to the Hierarch, who, when 
he has sealed the man with the most Divinely 
operating Muron, pronounces him to be hencefor- 
ward partaker of the most Divinely initiating Eu- 

d fivpov is the unguent prepared from myrrh, fivpocpeyyris is 
shining with such unguent, and ixvpoarayris {fivpov and o-rafa) 
dripping with ditto. Ap. Con. lib. ii. c. 14. 

e Syr. Doc. p. 60. Clark. f rpiar^v inroaraav. 

Heb. i. 3. 

80 Dionysius the Areopagite 

Section VIII. 
When he has finished these things, he elevates 
himself from his progression to things secondary, 
to the contemplation of things * first, as one, who, 
at no time or manner, turns himself to any other 
thing whatever than those which are peculiarly his 
own, but from things Divine to Divine, — is per- 
sistently and always ranging himself under the 
banner of the supremely Divine Spirit. 

III. Contemplation. 
Section I. 

This initiation, then, of the holy birth in God, 
as in symbols, has nothing unbecoming or irreverent, 
nor anything of the sensible images, but (contains) 
enigmas of a contemplation worthy of God, likened 
to physical and human images. For how should 
it appear misleading? Even when the very divine 
meaning of the things done is passed over in silence, 
h the divine Instruction might convince, religiously 
pursuing as it does the good life of the candidate, 
enjoining upon him the purification from every kind 
of evil, through a virtuous and Divine life, by the 
physical cleansing through the agency of water in 
a bodily form. This symbolic teaching then of 
the things done, even if it had nothing more divine, 
would not be without religious value, as I think, 
introducing a discipline of a well-regulated life, and 
suggesting mysteriously, through the total bodily 

8 From outward signs to inward grace. h Catechism. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 81 

purification by water, the complete purification from 
the evil life. 

Section II. 
Let this, then, be, for the uninitiated, a conducting 
guidance of the soul, which separates, as is meet 
things sacred and uniform from multiplicity, and 
apportions the harmonious elevation to the Orders 
severally in turn. But we, who have ascended 
by sacred gradations to the ; sources of the things 
performed, and have been religiously taught these 
(sources), shall recognize of what moulds they are the 
reliefs, and of what invisible things they are the 
likenesses. For, as is distinctly shewn in the Trea- 
tise concerning "Intelligible and Sensible," sacred 
things in sensible forms are copies of things intel- 
ligible, to which they lead and shew the way ; and 
things intelligible are source and science of things 
hierarchical cognizable by the senses. 

Section III. 
Let us affirm, then, that the goodness of the 
Divine Blessedness is always in the same condition 
and manner, unfolding the beneficent rays of its own 
light upon all the intellectual visions without grudg- 
ing. Should, then, the self-choosing self-sufficiency 
of the contemplators either turn away from the light 
contemplated, by closing, through love of evil, the 
faculties for enlightenment naturally implanted within 
it, it would be separated from the light present to 


82 Dionysius the Areopagite 

it, not turned away, but shining upon it when short- 
sighted and turning its face from light generously 
running to it ; or should it overstep the bounds 
of the visible given to it in due proportion, and 
rashly undertake to gaze upon the rays superior to 
its vision, the light indeed will do nothing beyond 
its proper functions, but it, by imperfectly approach- 
ing things perfect, would not attain to things un- 
suitable, and, by stupidly disregarding the due. 
proportion, would fail through its own fault. 

But, as I said, the Divine Light is always unfolded 
beneficently to the intellectual visions, and it is 
possible for them to seize it when present, and al- 
ways being most ready for the distribution of things 
appropriate, in a manner becoming God. To this 
imitation the divine Hierarch is fashioned, unfolding 
to all, without grudging, the luminous rays of his 
inspired teaching, and, after the Divine example, 
being most ready to enlighten the proselyte, neither 
using a grudging nor an unholy wrath for former 
back-slidings or excess, but, after the example of 
God, always enlightening by his conducting light 
those who approach him, as becomes a Hierarch, 
in fitness, and order, and in proportion to the 
aptitude of each for holy things. 

Section IV. 

But, inasmuch as the Divine Being is source of 
sacred order, within which the holy Minds regulate 
themselves, he, who recurs to the proper view of 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 83 

Nature, will see his proper self in what he was 
originally, and will acquire this, as the first holy gift, 
from his recovery to the light. Now he, who has 
well looked upon his own proper condition with 
unbiassed eyes, will depart from the gloomy recesses 
of ignorance, but being imperfect he will not, of his 
own accord, at once desire the most perfect union 
and participation of God, but little by little will 
be carried orderly and reverently through things 
present to things more forward, and through these 
to things foremost, and when perfected, to the 
supremely Divine summit. An illustration of this 
decorous and sacred order is the modesty of the 
proselyte, and his prudence in his own affairs in hav- 
ing the sponsor as leader of the way to the Hierarch. 
The Divine Blessedness receives the man, thus con- 
ducted, into communion with Itself, and imparts to 
him the proper light as a kind of sign, making him 
godly k and sharer of the inheritance of the godly, 
and sacred ordering ; of which things the Hierarchs 
sea 1 , given to the proselyte, and the saving enrolment 
of the priests are a sacred symbol, registering him 
amongst those who are being saved, and placing 
in the sacred memorials, beside himself also his 
sponsor, — the one indeed, as a true lover of the 
life-giving way to truth and a companion of a godly 
guide, and the other, as an unerring conductor of 
his follower by the Divinely-taught directions. 

84 Dionysius the Areopagite 

Section V. 
Yet it is not possible to hold, conjointly, qualities 
thoroughly opposed, nor that a man who has had 
a certain fellowship with the One should have di- 
vided lives, if he clings to the firm participation 
in the One ; but he must be resistless and resolute, 
as regards all separations from the uniform. This 
it is which the teaching of the symbols reverently 
and enigmatically intimates, by stripping the prose- 
lyte, as it were, of his former life, and discarding 
to the very utmost the habits within that life, makes 
him stand naked and barefoot, looking away towards 
the west, whilst he spurns, by the aversion of his 
hands, the participations in the gloomy baseness, 
and breathes out, as it were, the habit of dissimilarity 
which he had acquired, and professes the entire 
renunciation of everything contrary to the Divine 
likeness. When the man has thus become invincible 
and separate from evil, it turns him towards the 
east, declaring clearly that his position and recovery 
will be purely in the Divine Light, in the complete 
separation from baseness ; and receiving his sacred 
promises of entire consort with the One, since he 
has become uniform through love of the truth. Yet 
it is pretty evident, as I think, to those versed in 
Hierarchical matters, that things intellectual 1 ac- 
quire the unchangeableness of the Godlike habit, 
by continuous and persistent struggles towards one m , 
and by the entire destruction and annihilation of 

Ta poepi. m John 

xvii. 21, 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 85 

things contrary. For it is necessary that a man 
should not only depart from every kind of baseness, 
but he must be also bravely obdurate and ever 
fearless against the baneful submission to it. Nor 
must he, at any time, become remiss in his sacred 
love of the truth, but with all his power persistently 
and perpetually be elevated towards it, always re- 
ligiously pursuing his upward course, to the more 
perfect mysteries of the Godhead. 

Section VI. 

Now you may see the distinct illustrations of these 
things in the religious rites performed by the Hier- 
arch. For the Godlike Hierarch starts with the 
holy anointing, and the Priests under him complete 
the Divine service of the Chrism, summoning in 
type the man initiated to the holy contests, within 
which he is placed under Christ as Umpire : since, 
as God, He is Institutor of the awards of contest, 
and as wise, He placed its laws, and as generous, 
the prizes suitable to the victors n . And this is yet 
more Divine, since as good, He devotedly entered 
the lists with them, contending, on behalf of their 
freedom and victory, for their power over death* 1 
and destruction \ he who is being initiated will 
enter the contests, as those of God, rejoicing, and 
abides by the regulations of the Wise, and contends 
according to them, without transgression, holding 

n I Cor. ii. 9. p s# ixxxviji. ^ 

P 2 Tim. i. 10. <i Ps. xvi. 10. 

86 Dionysius the Areopagite 

fast the hope of the beautiful rewards, as being 
enrolled under a good Lord and Leader of the 
awards ; and when after following in the Divine 
footsteps of the first of athletes, through goodness, 
he has overthrown, in his struggles after the Divine 
example, the energies and impulses opposed to his 
deification, he dies with Christ — to speak mystically 
— to sin, in Baptism. 

Section VII. 
And consider attentively, I pray, with what ap- 
propriateness the holy symbols are presented. For 
since death is with us not an annihilation of being, 
as others surmise, but the separating of things united, 
leading to that which is invisible to us, the soul 
indeed becoming invisible through deprivation of 
the body, and the body, through being buried in 
earth in consequence of one of its bodily changes, 
becoming invisible to human ken, appropriately, the 
whole covering by water would be taken as an image 
of death, and the invisible tomb. The symbolical 
teaching, then, reveals in mystery that the man 
baptized according to religious rites, imitates, so 
far as Divine imitation is attainable to men, by the 
three immersions in the water, the supremely Divine 
death of the Life-giving Jesus, Who spent three 
days r and three nights in the tomb, in Whom, 
according to the mystical and secret teaching of 
the sacred text, the Prince of the world found 
nothing 8 . 

r TpiTtlHtpOVVKTOV TCNpTJS. 8 John XIV. 3O. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 87 

Section VIII. 

Next, they throw garments, white as light, over 
the man initiated. For by his manly and Godlike 
insensibility to contrary passions, and by his per- 
sistent inclination towards the One, the unadorned 
is adorned, and the shapeless takes shape, being- 
made brilliant by his luminous life. 

But the perfecting unction of the Muron makes 
the man initiated of good odour, for the holy per- 
fecting of the Divine birth unites those who have 
been perfected to the supremely Divine Spirit. Now 
the * overshadowing which makes intelligibly of a 
good savour, and perfect, as being most unutterable, 
I leave to the u mental consciousness of those who 
are deemed worthy of the sacred and deifying partici- 
pation of the Holy Spirit within their mind. 

At the conclusion of all, the Hierarch calls the 
man initiated to the most Holy Eucharist, and 
imparts to him the communion of the perfecting 

I. Concerning things accomplished in the Synaxis. 

Courage, then, since we have made mention of 
this (Eucharist) which we may not pass over to 
celebrate any other Hierarchical function in pre- 
ference to it. For according to our illustrious 

* iirKpoiTriais. u iiuyvwvai voep&s. 

88 Diotiysius the Areopagite 

Leader, it is x " initiation of initiations," and one 
must first lay down the Divine description of it, 
before the rest, from the inspired and hierarchical 
science of the Oracles, and then be borne by the 
supremely Divine Spirit to its sacred contemplation. 
First, let us reverently consider this; for what 
reason that, which is common also to the other 
Hierarchical initiations, is pre-eminently attributed 
to it, beyond the rest; and it is uniquely called, 
" Communion and Synaxis," when each consecrating 
function both collects our divided lives into uniform 
deification, and gives communion and union with 
the One, by the Godlike folding together of our 
diversities. Now we affirm that the Perfecting by 
the communications of the other Hierarchical sym- 
bols springs from the supremely Divine and per- 
fecting gifts of it. For it scarcely ever happens, 
that any Hierarchical initiation is completed without 
the most Divine Eucharist, as head of the things 
done in each, ministering the collecting of the 
person initiated to the One, and completing his 
communion with God, by the Divinely transmitted 
gift of the perfecting mysteries. If, then, each of 
the Hierarchical initiations, being indeed incom- 
plete, will not make perfect our communion and 
our gathering to the One, even its being initiation 
is precluded on account of the lack of completeness. 
Now since the imparting of the supremely Divine 
mysteries to the man initiated is the head and 
tail of every initiation, naturally then the Hier- 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 89 

archical judgment hit upon an appellation proper 
to it, from the truth of the facts. Thus, for instance, 
with regard to the holy initiation of the Divine 
birth; since it imparts first-Light, and is head of 
all the Divine illuminations, we celebrate the true 
appellation from the enlightening effected. For, 
though it be common to all Hierarchical functions 
to impart the gift of sacred light to those initiated, 
yet it y gave to me the power to see 'first, and through 
its first light I am enlightened to gaze upon the 
other religious rites. Having said this, let us mi- 
nutely investigate and examine hierarchically the 
accurate administration and contemplation of the 
most pure initiation, in every particular. 

// Mysterion 7 - of Synaxis, that is, Communion. 

The Hierarch, having completed a reverent prayer, 
near the Divine Altar, starts with the incensing, 
and proceeds to every part of the enclosure of the 
sacred place; he then returns to the Divine Altar, 
and begins the sacred chanting of the Psalms, the 
whole ecclesiastical assembly chanting, with him, 
the sacred language of the Psalter. Next follows 
the reading of the Holy Scriptures by the Leitourgoi. 
After these readings the catechumens quit the sacred 
enclosure, as well as the "possessed," and the 

y Baptism, Ap. C. lib. 3, c. 16. 

z See Traicte de la Liturgie ou S. Messe selon l'usage et la 
forme des apostres, et de leur disciple Sainct Denys, Apostre 
des Francois, par. Gilb. Genebrard, archevesque dAix. 

9 o Diony sins the Areopagite 

penitents. But those who are deemed worthy of 
the sight and participation of the Divine Mysteries 
remain. Of the Leitourgoi, some stand near the 
closed gates of the sanctuary, whilst others perform 
some other duty of their own rank. But chosen 
members of the ministering Order with the Priests 
lay the holy Bread and the Cup of Blessing upon 
the Divine Altar, whilst the universal Song a of 
Praise is being professed beforehand by the whole 
body of the Church. Added to these, the Divine 
Hierarch makes a sacred prayer, and proclaims the 
holy Peace to all. When all have kissed each other, 
the mystical proclamation of the holy tablets is 
performed. When the Hierarch and the Priests 
have washed their hands in water, the Hierarch 
stands in the midst of the Divine Altar, and the 
chosen Deacons alone, with the Priests, stand around. 
The Hierarch, when he has sung the sacred works 
of God, ministers things most divine, and brings 
to view the things sung, through the symbols rever- 
ently exposed b , and when he has shewn the gifts 
of the works of God c , he first proceeds to the sacred 
participation of the same, and turns and exhorts 
the others. When he has received and distributed 
the supremely Divine Communion, he terminates 
with a holy thanksgiving; whilst the multitude have 
merely glanced at the Divine symbols alone, he 
is ever conducted by the Divine Spirit, as becomes 

a Ap. C. lib. 8, s. 12, Lit. of Dionysius, p. 189. 
b As in Denmark. c Q^v P1 «W- Divine Mysteries ? 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 9 1 

a Hierarch, in the purity of a Godlike condition, 
to the holy sources of the things performed, in 
blessed and intelligible visions. 

III. Contemplation. 
Section I. 

Here then, too, O excellent son, after the images, 
I come in due order and reverence to the Godlike 
reality of the archetypes, saying here to those yet 
being initiated, for the harmonious guidance of their 
souls, that the varied and sacred composition of the 
symbols is not without spiritual contemplation for 
them, as merely presented superficially. For the 
most sacred chants and readings of the Oracles 
teach them a discipline of a virtuous life, and pre- 
vious to this, the complete purification from de- 
structive evil ; and the most Divine, and common, 
and peaceful distribution of one and the same, both 
Bread and Cup, enjoins upon them a godly fellow- 
ship in character, as having a fellowship in food, 
and recalls to their memory the most Divine Supper, 
and arch-symbol of the rites performed, agreeably 
with which the Founder of the symbols Himself 
excludes, most justly, him who had supped with 
Him on the holy things, not piously d and in a manner 
suitable to his character; teaching at once, clearly 

d John xiii. II. St. Cyprian thought Judas was' excluded ; 
St. Augustine not. See Cornelius a Lapide on John xiii. II 
Ap. C. 5, s. 14. 

92 Dionysius the Artopagite 

and Divinely, that the approach to Divine mysteries 
with a sincere mind confers, on those who draw nigh, 
the participation in a gift according to their own 

Section II. 

Let us, then, as I said, leave behind these things, 
beautifully depicted upon the entrance of the in- 
nermost shrine, as being sufficient for those, who are 
yet incomplete for contemplation, and let us pro- 
ceed from the effects to the causes ; and then, Jesus 
lighting the way, we shall view our holy Synaxis, 
and the comely contemplation of things intelligible, 
which makes radiantly manifest the blessed beauty 
of the archetypes. But, oh, most Divine and holy 
initiation, uncovering the folds of the dark mysteries 
enveloping thee in symbols, be manifest to us in 
thy bright glory, and fill our intellectual visions with 
single and unconcealed light. 

Section III. 

We must, then, in my opinion, pass within the All 
Holy Mysteries, after we have laid bare the intelligible 
of the first of the votive gifts, to gaze upon its God- 
like beauty, and view the Hierarch, divinely going 
with sweet fragrance from the Divine Altar to the 
furthermost bounds of the holy place, and again 
returning to it to complete the function. For 
the Blessedness, supremely Divine above all, even 
if, through Divine goodness, It goes forth to the 
communion of the holy who participate in It, yet 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 93 

It never goes outside its essential unmoved position 
and steadfastness ; and illuminates all the Godlike in 
due degree, being always self-centred, and in no- 
wise moved from its own proper identity; so, too, 
the Divine initiation (sacrament) of the Synaxis, 
although it has a unique, and simple, and enfolded 
Source, is multiplied, out of love towards man, into 
the holy variety of the symbols, and travels through 
the whole range of the supremely Divine description ; 
yet uniformly it is again collected from these, into 
its own proper Monady, and unifies those who are 
being reverently conducted towards it. In the same 
Godlike manner, the Divine Hierarch, if he benignly 
lowers to his subordinates his own unique Hier- 
archical science, by using the multiplicities of the 
holy enigmas, yet again, as absolute, and not to 
be held in check by smaller things, he is restored to 
his proper headship e without diminution, and, when 
he has made the intellectual entry of himself to the 
One, he sees clearly the uniform raisons d'etre* of 
the things done, as he makes the goal of his philan- 
thropic progress to things secondary the more Di- 
vine g return to things primary. 

Section IV. 

The chanting of the Psalms, being co-essential 
with almost all the Hierarchical mysteries, was not 
likely to be separated from the most Hierarchical of 
all. For every holy and inspired Scripture sets forth 

e &pxh v - f \6yovs. s Hieracles, p. 41. 

94 Diony sius the Areopagite 

for those meet for deification, either the originated 
beginning 11 and ordering of things from God; or 
the Hierarchy 1 and polity of the Law; or the dis- 
tributions 11 and possessions of the inheritances of 
the people of God ; or the understanding of sacred 
judges \ or of wise kings, or of inspired Priests : or 
philosophy 111 of men of old time, unshaken" in en- 
durances of the things let loose in variety and 
multitude ; or the treasures of wisdom for the conduct 
of life ; or songs and inspired ° pictures of Divine 
Loves ; or the declaratory predictions p of things to 
come; q or the Theandric works of Jesus 1- ; or the 
God-transmitted 8 and God- imitating polities and 
holy teachings of His Disciples, or the hidden and 
mystic gaze of the beloved and divinely sweet of the 
disciples, or the supermundane theology of Jesus ; 
and implanted them in the holy and Godlike in- 
structions of the mystic rites. Now the sacred de- 
scription of the Divine Odes*, whose purpose is 
to sing the words and works of God throughout, 
and to praise the holy w r ords and works of godly 
men, forms an universal Ode and narrative of things 
Divine, and makes, in those who inspiredly u recite 
it, a habit suitable for the reception and distribution 
of every Hierarchical mystery. 

h Genesis i. * Leviticus and Deut. k Numbers. 

1 Judges and Kings. m Proverbs and Wisdom. n Job. 

o Canticles. P Prophets. 9 avdpiitas 'Itjctov Oeovpylas. 

t Gospels. s Acts and Epistles. t Psalms. 

u ivOiws IspoKoyovaiv. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 95 

Section V. 

When, then, the comprehensive melody of the 
holy Hymns has harmonized the habits of our souls 
to the things which are presently to be ministered, 
and, by the unison of the Divine Odes, as one 
and concordant chorus of holy men, has estab- 
lished an accord with things Divine, and them- 
selves x , and one another, the things, more strained 
and obscure in the intellectual language of the 
mystic Psalms, are expanded by the most holy 
lections of the inspired writings, through more full 
and distinct images and narratives. He, who de- 
voutly contemplates these, will perceive the uniform 
and one conspiration, as being moved by One, the 
supremely Divine Spirit. Hence, naturally, in the 
history of the world, after the more ancient y tra- 
dition, the new Covenant is proclaimed ; the inspired 
and Hierarchical order teaching this, as I think, 
that the one affirmed the Divine works of Jesus, 
as to come ; but the other accomplished ; and as 
that described the truth in figures, this shewed it 
present. For the accomplishment, within this, of 
the predictions of that, established the truth, and 
the work of God is a consummation of the Word 
of God. 

Section VI. 

Those who absolutely have no ear for these sacred 
initiations do not even recognize the images,— 

x Republic, lib. iv. ad finem. Dulac, p. 426-7. 
y The Law and the Prophets. 

96 Dionysius the Areopagite 

unblushingly rejecting the saving revelation of the 
Divine Birth, and in opposition to the Oracles reply 
to their destruction, "Thy ways I do not wish to 
know 2 ." 

Now the regulation of the holy Hierarchy permits 
the catechumens, and the possessed, and the peni- 
tents, to hear the sacred chanting of the Psalms, 
and the inspired reading of the all-Holy Scriptures ; 
but it does not invite them to the next religious 
services and contemplations, but only the eyes of 
the initiated. For the Godlike Hierarchy is full of 
reverent justice, and distributes savingly to each, 
according to their due, bequeathing savingly the 
harmonious communication of each of the things 
Divine, in measure, and proportion, and due time. 
The lowest rank, then, is assigned to the cate- 
chumens, for they are without participation and 
instruction in every Hierarchical initiation, not even 
having the being in God by Divine Birth, but are 
yet being brought to a Birth by the Paternal Oracles, 
and moulded, by life-giving formations, towards the 
blessed introduction to their first life and first light 
from Birth in God. As, then, children after the 
flesh, if, whilst immature and unformed, they should 
anticipate their proper delivery, as untimely born and 
abortions, will fall to earth without life and without 
light ; and no one, in his senses, would say from 
what he saw, that they, released from the darkness 
of the womb, were brought to the light (for the 

z Job xxi. 14. 
» See Plato, Thet. i. 114, 115. Dulac, 429. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. g 7 

medical authority, which is learned in the functions 
of the body, would say that light operates on things 
receptive of light) ; so also the all-wise science of 
religious rites brings these first to delivery, by the 
preparatory nourishment of the formative and life- 
giving Oracles ; and when it has made their person 
ripe for Divine Birth, gives to them savingly, in 
due order, the participation in things luminous and 
perfecting; but, at present, it separates things per- 
fect from them as imperfect, consulting the good 
order of sacred things, and the delivery and life 
of the catechumens, in a Godlike order of the Hier- 
archical rites. 

Section VII. 
Now the multitude of the possessed indeed is 
unholy, but it is next above the catechumens, which 
is lowest. Nor is that which has received a certain 
participation in the most holy offices, but is yet 
entangled by contrary qualities, whether enchant- 
ments or terrors, on a par, as I think, with the 
altogether uninitiated and entirely uncommunicated 
in the Divine initiations; but, even for them, the 
view and participation in the holy, mysteries is con- 
tracted, and very properly. For, if it be true that 
the altogether godly man, the worthy partaker of the 
Divine mysteries, the one carried to the very summit 
of the Divine likeness, to the best of his powers, 
in complete and most perfect deifications, does not 
even perform the things of the flesh, beyond the 
most necessary requirements of nature, and then as 


98 Diony sius the Areopagite 

a parergon, but will be, at the same time, a temple, 
and a follower, according to his ability, of the 
supremely Divine Spirit, in the highest deification, 
implanting like in like ; — such an one as this 
would never be possessed by opposing phantoms 
or fears, but will laugh them to scorn, and when 
they approach, will cast them down and put them 
to flight, and will act rather than comply, and 
in addition to the passionless and indomitableness 
of his own character, will be seen also a physician 
to others, for such ''possessions" as these b ; (and 
I think further, yea, rather, I know certainly that 
the most impartial discrimination of Hierarchical 
persons knows more than they c , that such as are 
possessed with a most detestable possession, by 
departing from the Godlike life, become of one 
mind and one condition with destructive demons, 
by turning themselves from things that really are, 
and undying possessions, and everlasting pleasures, 
for the sake of the most base and impassioned folly 
destructive to themselves; and by desiring and 
pursuing the earthly variableness, and the perish- 
able and corrupting pleasures, and the unstable 
comfort in things foreign to their nature, not real 
but seeming;) these then, first, and more properly 
than those, were shut out by the discriminating 
authority of the Deacon; for it is not permittee! 
to them to have part in any other holy function 
than the teaching of the Oracles, which is likely 
to turn them to better things. For, if the super* 
b ^ V€ pynndruv. c The energoumenoi. 

on the Eccletiastical Hierarchy. 99 

mundane Service of the Divine Mysteries excludes 
those under penitence, and those who have already 
attained it, not permitting anything to come near 
which is not completely perfect, and proclaims, and 
this in all sincerity, that " I am unseen and uncom- 
municated by those who are in any respect imper- 
fectly weak as regards the summit of the Divine 
Likeness" (for that altogether most pure voice scares 
away even those who cannot be associated with 
the worthy partakers of the most Divine mysteries) ; 
how much more, then, will the multitude of those 
who are under the sway of their passions be un- 
hallowed and alien from every sight and partici- 
pation in the holy mysteries. When, then, the un- 
initiated in the mysteries, and the imperfect, and 
with them the apostates from the religious life, 
and after them, those who through unmanliness 
are prone to the fears and fancies of contrary 
influences, as not reaching through the persistent 
and indomitable inclination towards godliness, the 
stability and activity of a Godlike condition ; then, 
in addition to these, those who have separated in- 
deed from the contrary life, but have not yet been 
cleansed from its imaginations by a godly and pure 
habit and love, and next, those who are not al- 
together uniform, and to use an expression of the 
Law, "entirely without spot and blemish," when 
these have been excluded from the divine temple 
and the service which is too high for them, the 
all-holy ministers and loving contemplators of things 
all-holy, gazing reverently upon the most pure rite, 

ioo Dionysius the Areopagite 

sing in an universal Hymn of Praise d the Author 
and Giver of all good, from Whom the saving 
mystic Rites were exhibited to us, which divinely 
work the sacred deification of those being initiated. 
Now this Hymn some indeed call a Hymn of Praise, 
others, the symbol of worship, but others, as I think, 
more divinely, a Hierarchical thanksgiving, as giving 
a summary of the holy gifts which come to us from 
God. For, it seems to me the record e of all the 
works of. God related to have been done for us in 
song, which, after it had benevolently fixed our 
being and life, and moulded the Divine likeness 
in ourselves to beautiful archetypes, and placed us 
in participation of a more Divine condition and 
elevation ; but when it beheld the dearth of Divine 
gifts, which came upon us by our heedlessness, is 
declared to have called us back to our first condi- 
tion, by goods restored, and by the complete as- 
sumption f of what was ours, to have made good the 
most perfect impartation of His own, and thus to 
have given to us a participation in God and Divine 

Section VIII. 

When the supremely Divine love towards Man 

has thus been religiously celebrated, the Divine 

Bread is presented, veiled, and likewise the Cup 

of Blessing, and the most Divine greeting is de- 

d ifjLvo\oyla Ka6o\iKr}. The whole Psalter is said in Liturgy 
of St. James before celebration. 
6 Liturgy of Dionysius, p. 191. f Incarnation. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 101 

voutly performed, and the mystic and supermundane 
recital of the holy-written tablets. Tor it is not 
possible to be collected to the One, and to par- 
take of the peaceful union with the One, when 
people are divided amongst themselves. For if, 
being illuminated by the contemplation and know- 
ledge of the One, we would be united to an uni- 
form and Divine agreement, we must not permit 
ourselves to descend to divided lusts, from which 
are formed earthly enmities, envious and passionate, 
against that which is according to nature. This 
unified and undivided life is, in my opinion, estab- 
lished by the holy service of the " peace," which es- 
tablishes like in like, and separates the Divine and 
unified visions from things divided. The recital of 
the holy tablets after the " peace " proclaims those 
who have passed through life holily, and have 
reached the term of a virtuous life without falter- 
ing, urging and conducting us to their blessed con- 
dition and Divine repose, through similarity to them, 
and, announcing them as living, and, as the Word 
of God says, " not dead, but as having passed from 
death to a most divine life V 

Section IX. 

But observe that they are enrolled in the holy 
memorials, not as though the Divine memory were 
represented under the figure of a memorial, after 
the manner of men ; but as one might say, with 

& I John iii. 14. 

102 Dionysius the Areopagite 

reverence towards God, as beseems the august and 
unfailing knowledge in God of those who have 
been perfected in the likeness of God. For " He 
knoweth," say the Oracles, "them that are His h ," 
and "precious, in the sight of the Lord, is the death 
of His saints 1 , "death of saints," being said, instead 
of the perfection in holiness. And bear this reli- 
giously in mind, that when the worshipful symbols 
have been placed on the Divine Altar, through 
which (symbols) the Christ is signified and partaken, 
there is inseparably present the reading of the re- 
gister of the holy persons, signifying the indivisible 
conjunction of their supermundane and sacred union 
with Him. When these things have been ministered, 
according to the regulations described, the Hierarch, 
standing before the most holy symbols, washes his 
hands with water, together with the reverend order 
of the Priests. Because, as the Oracles testify, when 
a man has been washed, he needs no other washing, 
except that of his extremities J, i.e. his lowest ; through 
which extreme cleansing he will be resistless' and 
free, as altogether uniform, in a sanctified habit of 
the Divine Likeness, and advancing in a goodly 
manner to things secondary, and being turned again 
uniquely to the One, he will make his return, with- 
out spot and blemish, as preserving the fulness and 
completeness of the Divine Likeness. 

h 2 Tim. ii. 1 9. i p s . cxvi# I5 

J John xiii. 10. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 103 

Section X. 

There was indeed the sacred laver, as we have 
said, in the Hierarchy of the Law k ; and the pre- 
sent cleansing of the hands of the Hierarch and the 
Priests suggests it. For it behoves those who ap- 
proach the most hallowed service to be purified even 
to the remotest imaginations of the soul, through 
likeness to it, and, as far as possible, to draw nigh ; 
for thus they will shed around more visibly the 
Divine manifestations, since the supermundane 
flashes permit their own splendour to pass more 
thoroughly and brilliantly into the brightness of 
mirrors like themselves. Further, the cleansing of 
the Hierarch and the Priests to their extremities, 
i.e. lowest, takes place before the most holy symbols, 
as in the presence of Christ, Who surveys all our 
most secret thoughts, and since the utmost purifi- 
cation is established under His all-surveying scrutiny, 
and most just and unflinching judgment, the Hierarch 
thus becomes one with the things Divine, and, when 
he has extolled the holy works of God, he ministers 
things most Divine, and brings to view the things 
being sung 1 . 

Section XL 

We will now explain, in detail, to the best of our 

ability, certain works of God, of which we spoke. 

For / am not competent to sing all, much less to 

know accurately, and to reveal their mysteries to 

k Deut. xxi. 6. 1 As is the use in Denmark. 

*°4 Dionysius the Areopagite 

others. Now whatever things have been sung and 
ministered by the inspired Hierarchy agreeably to 
the Oracles, these we will declare, as far as attainable 
to us, invoking the Hierarchical inspiration to our 
aid. When, in the beginning, our human nature had 
thoughtlessly fallen from the good things of God it 
received, by inheritance, the life subject to many 
passions, and the goal of the destructive death » 
Por, as a natural consequence, the pernicious fallin- 
away from genuine goodness and the transgression 
or the sacred Law in Paradise delivered the man 
fretted with the life-giving yoke, to his own down- 
ward inclinations and the enticing and hostile wiles 
of the adversary-the contraries of the divine goods • 
thence it pitiably exchanged for the eternal, the 
mortal, and, having had its own origin in deadly 
generations, the goal naturally corresponded with the 
beginning ; but having willingly fallen from the Di- 
vine and elevating life, it was carried to the contrary 
extremity,-the variableness of many passions, and 
lead astray, and turned aside from the strait way 
leading to the true God,-and subjected to destruc- 
tive and evil-working multitudes— naturally forgot 
that it was worshipping, not gods, or friends, but 
enemies. Now when these had treated it harshly, 
according to their own cruelty, it fell pitiably into 
danger of annihilation and destruction; but the 
boundless Loving-kindness of the supremely Divine 
goodness towards man did not, in Its benevolence, 
withdraw from us Its spontaneous forethought, but 
■ The Fall. 


on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 105 

having truly participated sinlessly in all tilings be- 
longing to us n , and having been made one with our 
lowliness in connection with the unconfused and 
flawless possession of Its own properties in full per- 
fection, It bequeathed to us, as henceforth members 
of the same family, the communion with Itself, and 
proclaimed us partakers of Its own beautiful things ; 
having, as the secret teaching holds, loosed the 
power of the rebellious multiplicity, which was 
against us; not by force, as having the upper hand, 
but, according to the Logion, mystically transmitted 
to us, "in judgment and righteousness p." 

The things within us, then, It benevolently changed 
to the entire contrary. For the lightless within our 
mind It filled with blessed and most Divine Light, 
and adorned the formless with Godlike beauties ; the 
tabernacle 1 of our soul It liberated from most 
damnable passions and destructive stains by a per- 
fected deliverance of our being which was all but 
prostrate, by shewing to us a supermundane eleva- 
tion, and an inspired polity in our religious assimi- 
lation to Itself, as far as is possible. 

Section XII. 
But how could the Divine imitation otherwise 
become ours, unless the remembrance of the most 
holy works of God were perpetually being renewed 
by the mystical teachings and ministrations of the 
Hierarchy? This, then, we do, as the Oracles say, 

n Heb. iv. 15. ° Ps. lxxiv. 14. p Ibid> xcv 

111. 2. 

q Plato, Crat. i. 295. 

1 06 Diony sius the AreopagiU 

"for Its remembrance-" Wherefore the Divine 
Hierarch, standing before the Divine Altar, extols 
the aforesaid holy works of God, which proceed from 
the most divine forethought of Jesus on our behalf, 
which He accomplished for preservation of our race 
»>y the good pleasure of the most Holy Father in the 
Holy Spirit, according to the Logion ». When he 
has extolled their majesty, and gazed, with intel- 
lectual eyes, upon their intelligible contemplation 
he proceeds to their symbolical ministration,— and 
this,— as transmitted from God. Whence after the 
holy hymns of the works of God, he piously and 
as becomes a hierarch, deprecates his own unworthi- 
ness for a service above his merits, first, reverently 
crying aloud to Him, -Thou hast said, This do for 
My remembrance*." Then, "having asked to be- 
come meet for this the God-imitating of service and 
to consecrate things Divine by the assimilation to 
Christ Himself, and to distribute them altogether 
purely, and that those who shall partake of things 
holy may receive them holily, he consecrates things 
most Divine, and brings to view through the svmbols 
reverently exposed the things whose praises are 
being sung. For when he has unveiled the veiled 
and undivided Bread, and divided it into many, and 
has divided the Oneness of the Cup to all, he 
symbolically multiplies and distributes the unity 
completing in these an altogether most holy minis- 
tration. For the "one," and "simple," and "hid- 
r Luk, xxii. 19. s Ps> xl 6 _ 8 t Luke xx . L ^ 

u Prayer of humble access. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 107 

den," of Jesus, the most supremely Divine Word, 
by His incarnation amongst us, came forth, out of 
goodness and love towards man, to the compound 
and visible, and benevo^ntly devised the unifying 
communion, having united, to the utmost, our low- 
liness to the most Divine of Himself; if indeed we 
have been fitted to Him ; as members to a body, 
after the identity of a blameless and Divine life, and 
have not, by being killed through destructive passions, 
become inharmonious, and unfastened, and unyoked, 
to the godly and most healthy members. For, if we 
aspire to communion with Him, we must keep our 
eye fixed upon His most godly Life in the flesh, and 
we must retrace our path to the Godlike and blame- 
less habit of Its holy sinlessness by assimilation to 
It ; for thus He will communicate harmoniously to 
us the communion with the similar. 

Section XIII. 

The Hierarch makes known these things to those 
who are living religiously, by bringing the veiled gifts 
to view, by dividing their oneness into many, and by 
making the recipients partakers of them, by the ut- 
most union of the things distributed with those who x 
receive them. For he delineates in these things 
under sensible forms our intelligible life in figures, 
by bringing to view the Christ Jesus from the Hidden 
within the Divine Being, out of love to man, made 
like unto us by the all -perfect and unconfused 

x 7rp2>$ to iv ols yiyvtTai. 

108 Dioiiysius the Areopagite 

incarnation in our race, from us, and advancing to 
the divided condition of ourselves, without change 
from the essential One, and calling the human race, 
through this beneficent love of man, into partici- 
pation with Himself and His own good things, pro- 
vided we are united to His most Divine Life by our 
assimilation to it, as far as possible ; and by this, 
in very truth, we shall have been perfected, as 
partakers of God and of Divine things. 

Section XIV. 

Having received and distributed the supremely 
Divine Communion, he terminates with a holy thanks- 
giving, in which the whole body of the Church take 
part. For the Communion precedes the imparting, 
and the reception of the mysteries, the mystic dis- 
tribution. For this is the universal regulation and 
order of the Divine Mysteries, that the reverend 
Leader should first partake, and be filled with the 
gifts, to be imparted, through him, from God' to 
others, and so impart to others also. Wherefore, 
those who rashly content themselves with the in- 
spired instructions, in preference to a life and con- 
dition agreeable to the same, are profane, and 
entirely alien from the sacred regulation established. 
For, as in the case of the bright shining of the sun, 
the more delicate and luminous substances, being 
first filled with the brilliancy flowing into them, 
brightly impart their overflowing light to things after 
them ; so it is not tolerable that one, who has not 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 109 

become altogether Godlike in his whole character, 
and proved to be in harmony with the Divine 
influence and judgment, should become Leader to 
others, in the altogether divine. 

Section XV. 

Meanwhile, the whole order of the Priests having 
been collected together in hierarchical order, and 
communicated in the most Divine mysteries, finishes 
with a holy thanksgiving, after having recognized 
and sung the favours of the works of God, according 
to their degree. So that those, who have not par- 
taken and are ignorant of things Divine, would not 
attain to thanksgiving, although the most Divine 
gifts are, in their essential nature, worthy of thanks- 
giving. But, as I said, not having wished even to 
look at the Divine gifts, from their inclination to 
things inferior, they have remained throughout un- 
gracious towards the boundless graces of the works 
of God. " Taste and see," say the Oracles, for, by 
the sacred initiation of things Divine, the initiated 
recognize their munificent graces, and, by gazing with 
utmost reverence upon their most Divine height and 
breadth in the participation, they will sing the super- 
celestial beneficent works of the Godhead with gra- 
cious thanksgiving. 

1 1 o Dionysius the Areopagite 


/. Concern ino things performed in the Muron, and 
concerning things perfected in it. 

So great and so beautiful are the intelligible 
visions of the most holy Synaxis, which minister 
hierarchically, as we have often said, our partici- 
pation in, and collection towards, the One. But 
there is another perfecting Service of the same rank, 
which our Leaders name "Initiation of Muron," by 
contemplating whose parts in due order, in accor- 
dance with the sacred images, we shall thus be 
borne, by hierarchical contemplations, to its One- 
ness through its parts. 

II. Mysterion of Initiation of Muron*. 
In the same way as in the Synaxis, the orders 
of the imperfect are dismissed, that is, after the 
hierarchical procession has made the whole circuit 
of the temple, attended with fragrant incense ; and 
the chanting of the Psalms, and the reading of the 
most Divine Oracles. Then the Hierarch takes the 
Muron and places it, veiled under twelve sacred 
wings, upon the Divine Altar, whilst all cry aloud, 
with most devout voice, the sacred melody of the 
inspiration of the God-rapt Prophets, and when he 
has finished the prayer offered over it, he uses it 

y Ap. C. iii. s. 17 ; viii. s. 28. See note, p. 68. The Greeks 
have two kinds of sacred oil or Unguent, one specially blessed 
or consecrated by the Bishop, and another not necessarily so. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy . 1 1 t 

in the most holy mystic Rites of things being 
hallowed, for almost every Hierarchical consecra- 

ITT. Contemplation. 
Section I. 
The elementary teaching, then, of this the per- 
fecting service, through the things done over the 
Divine Muron, shews this, in my judgment, that, 
that which is holy and of sweet savour in the minds 
of devout men is covered, as with a veil, since it 
Divinely enjoins upon holy men to have their 
beautiful and well-savoured assimilations in virtue 
to the hidden God not seen for vain glory. For 
the hidden comeliness of God is unsullied, and is 
sweet beyond conception, and manifested for spiri- 
tual contemplation to the intellectual alone, through 
a desire to have the unsullied images of virtue in 
souls of the same pattern. For by looking away 
from the undistorted and well imitated image of 
the Godlike virtue to that contemplated and fragrant 
beauty, he thus moulds and fashions it to the most 
beautiful imitation. And, as in the case of sensible 
images, if the artist look without distraction upon the 
archetypal form, not distracted by sight of anything 
else, or in any way divided in attention, he will dupli- 
cate, if I may so speak, the very person that is being 
sketched, whoever he may be, and will shew the 
reality in the likeness, and the archetype in the 
image, and each in each, save the difference of 
substance ; thus, to copyists who love the beautiful 

1 1 2 Dionysins the Areopagite 

in mind, the persistent and unflinching contempla- 
tion of the sweet-savoured and hidden beauty will 
confer the unerring and most Godlike appearance 2 
Naturally, then, the divine copyists, who unflinching' 
ly mould their own intellectual contemplation to the 
superessentially sweet and contemplated comeliness, 
do none of their divinely imitated virtues "to be seen 
of men V as the Divine text expresses it; but rever- 
ently gaze upon the most holy things of the Church 
veiled in the Divine Muron as in a figure. Where- 
fore, these also, by religiously concealing that which 
is holy and most Divine in virtue within their God- 
like and God-engraved mind, look away to the arche- 
typal conception alone; for not only are they blind 
to things dissimilar, but neither are they drawn down 
to gaze upon them. Wherefore, as becomes their 
character, they do neither love things, merely seeming 
good and just, but those really being such ; nor do 
they look to opinion, upon which the multitude ir- 
rationally congratulate themselves, but, after the 
Divine example, by distinguishing the good or evil 
as it is in itself, they are Divine images of the 
most supremely Divine sweetness, which, having 
the truly sweet within itself, is not turned to the 
anomalously seeming of the multitude, moulding 
Its genuineness to the true images of Itself. 

Section II. 
Come, then, since we have viewed the exterior 
comeliness of the entirely beautiful ministration, let 
z Puto, Rep. i. 6, ii. 116. a Matt, xxiii. 5. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 113 

us now look away to its more godly beauty (whilst it- 
self, by itself, has uncovered the veils), gazing upon its 
blessed radiance, shedding its bright beams openly 
around, and filling us with the fragrance unveiled 
to the contemplators. For the visible consecration 
of the Muron is neither uncommunicated in, or un- 
seen by those who surround the Hierarch, but, on 
the contrary, by passing through to them, and fixing 
the contemplation above the many, is reverently 
covered by them, and by Hierarchical direction 
kept from the multitude. 

For the splendour of things all holy, by shedding 
its light clearly and without symbol to men inspired, 
as being congenial to the thing contemplated, and 
perfuming their contemplating perceptions without 
concealment, advances not yet in the same way to 
the inferior, but by them as deep contemplators of 
the thing contemplated is concealed under the enig- 
mas of the wings, without ostentation, so that 
it may not be defiled by the dissimilar; through 
which sacred enigmas the well-ordered Ranks of 
the subordinate are conducted to the degree of 
holiness compatible with their powers. 

Section III. 
The holy consecration, then, which we are now 
extolling, is, as I said, of the perfecting rank and 
capacity of the Hierarchical functions. Wherefore 
our Divine Leaders arranged the same, as being 
of the same rank and effect as the holy perfecting 
of the Synaxis, with the same figures, for the most 

U4 Dionysius the Areopagite 

part, and with mystical regulations and lections. 
And you may see in like manner the Hierarch 
bearing forward the sweet perfume from the more 
holy place into the sacred precincts beyond, and 
teaching, by the return to the same, that the par- 
ticipation in things Divine comes to all holy persons, 
according to fitness, and is undiminished and alto- 
gether unmoved and stands unchangeably in its 
identity, as beseems Divine fixity. In the same 
way the Psalms and readings of the Oracles nurse 
the imperfect to a life-bringing adoption of sons, 
and form a religious inclination in those who are 
possessed with accursed spirits, and dispel the op- 
posing fear and effeminacy from those possessed 
by a spirit of unmanliness ; shewing to them, 
according to their capacity, the highest pinnacle 
of the Godlike habit and power, by aid of which 
they will, the rather, scare away the opposing 
forces, and will take the lead in healing others; 
and, following the example of God, they will, 
whilst unmoved from their own proper gifts, not 
only be active against those opposing fears, but 
will themselves give activity to others ; and they 
also impart a religious habit to those who have 
changed from the worse to a religious mind, so 
that they should not be again enslaved by evil, 
and purify completely those who need to become 
altogether pure ; and they lead the holy to the Divine 
likenesses, and contemplations and communions be- 
longing to themselves, and so establish those who 
are entirely holy, in blessed and intelligible visions, 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 115 

fulfilling their uniform likeness of the One, and 
making them one. 

Section IV. 

What, then, shall I say further ? Is it not those 
Ranks already mentioned, which are not entirely 
pure, that the present consecrating service ex- 
cludes without distinction, in the same way as the 
Synaxis, so that it is viewed by the holy alone, 
in figures, and is contemplated and ministered, by 
the perfectly holy alone, immediately, through hier- 
archical directions? Now it is superfluous, as I 
think, to run over, by the same statements, these 
things already so often mentioned, and not to pass 
to the next, viewing the Hierarch, devoutly holding 
the Divine Muron veiled under twelve wings, and 
ministering the altogether holy consecration upon 
it. Let us then affirm that the composition of the 
Muron is a composition of sweet-smelling materials, 
which has in itself abundantly fragrant qualities, 
of which (composition) those who partake become 
perfumed in proportion to the degree to which they 
partake of its sweet savour. Now we are persuaded 
that the most supremely Divine Jesus is superessen- 
tially of good savour, filling the contemplative part 
of ourselves by bequests of Divine sweetness for 
contemplation. For if the reception of the sensible 
odours make to feel joyous, and nourishes, with 
much sweetness, the sensitive organs of our nostrils, 
— if at least they be sound and well apportioned to 
the sweet savour — in the same way any one mi^ht 

1 1 6 Dionysius the Areopagitc 

say that our contemplative faculties, being soundly 
disposed as regards the subjection to the worse, in 
the strength of the distinguishing faculty implanted 
in us by nature, receive the supremely Divine fra- 
grance, and are filled with a holy comfort and most 
Divine nourishment, in accordance with Divinely 
fixed proportions, and the correlative turning of the 
mind towards the Divine Being. Wherefore, the 
symbolical composition of the Muron, as expressing 
in form things that are formless, depicts to us Jesus 
Himself, as a well-spring of the wealth of the Divine 
sweet receptions b , distributing, in degrees supremely 
Divine, for the most Godlike of the contemplators c , 
the most Divine perfumes ; upon which the Minds, 
joyfully refreshed, and filled with the holy receptions, 
indulge in a feast of spiritual contemplation, by the 
entrance of the sweet d bequests into their contem- 
plative part, as beseems a Divine participation. 

Section V. 
Now it is evident, as I think, that the distribution 
of the fontal perfume to the Beings above ourselves, 
who are more Divine, is, as it were, nearer, and 
manifests and distributes itself more to the trans- 
parent and wholesome mental condition of their 
receptive faculty, overflowing ungrudgingly and en- 
tering in many fashions; but as regards the sub- 
ordinate contemplators, which are not so receptive, 
piously concealing the highest vision and partici- 
Cant. i. 3. c T( j„ y 0f pQi, t d 2 Cor. ii. 14. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 117 

pation, it is distributed in a supremely Divine 
proportion, in fragrance corresponding to the re- 
cipients. Amongst the holy Beings, then, who are 
above us, the superior order of the Seraphim is 
represented under the figure of the twelve wings, 
established and fixed around Jesus, casting itself 
upon the most blessed contemplations of Him, as 
far as permissible, and filled reverently with the 
contemplated truth distributed in most pure re- 
ceptions, and, to speak after the manner of men, 
crying aloud, with never silent lips, the frequent 
Hymn of Praise e ; for the sacred knowledge of 
the supermundane minds is both untiring, and pos- 
sesses the Divine love without intermission, and 
is at the same time superior to all baseness and 
forgetfulness. Hence, as I think, that phrase, 
"unceasing cry," suggests their perpetual and per- 
sistent science and conception of things Divine, 
with full concord and thanksgiving. 

Section VI. 
Now we have, as I think, sufficiently contem- 
plated, in the description of the super-heavenly 
Hierarchy, the incorporeal properties of the Sera- 
phim, Divinely described in the Scriptures under 
sensible figures explanatory of the contemplated 
Beings, and we have made them evident to thy 
contemplating eyes. Nevertheless, since now also 
they who stand reverently around the Hierarch, 

e Isa. vi. 3. 

n8 Dionysius the Areopagite 

reflect the highest Order, on a small scale, we will 
now view with most immaterial visions their most 
Godlike splendour. 

Section VII. 
Their numberless faces then, and many feet, 
manifest, as I think, their property of viewing the 
most Divine illuminations from many sides, and 
their conception of the good things of God as 
ever active and abundantly receptive; and the 
sixfold arrangement of the wings, of which the 
Scripture speaks, does not, I think, denote, as 
seems to some, a sacred number, but that of the 
highest Essence and Order around God ; the first 
and middle and last of its contemplative and God- 
like powers are altogether elevating, free, and su- 
ermundane. Hence the most holy wisdom of the 
Oracles, when reverently describing the formation 
of the wings, places the wings around their heads f , 
and middle, and feet, suggesting their complete 
covering with wings, and their manifold faculty of 
leading to the Really Being. 

Section VIII. 

Now if they cover their faces and their feet, and 
fly by their middle wings only, bear this reverently 
in mind, that the Order, so far exalted above the 
highest beings, is circumspect respecting the more 
lofty and deep of its conceptions, and raises itself, 

* Isa. vi. 2. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 119 

in due proportion, by its middle wings, to the vision 
of God, by placing its own proper life under the 
Divine yokes, and by these is reverently directed to 
the judgment of itself. 

Section IX. 

And, as regards the statement of Holy Scripture, 
that " one cried out to the other," that shews, I 
think, that they impart to each other ungrudgingly 
their own visions of God. And this we should deem 
worthy of religious recollection, that the Hebrew 
word in the Holy Scriptures names the most holy 
Beings of the Seraphim by an explanatory epithet, 
from their glowing and seething in a Divine and 
ever -moving life. 

Section X. 

Since, then, as those who understand Hebrew say, 
the most Divine Seraphim were named by the Word 
of God, "Kindling" and "Heating," by a name 
expressive of their essential condition, they possess, 
according to the symbolical imagery of the Divine 
Muron, most elevating powers, which call it to 
manifestation and distribution of most exhilarating 
perfumes. For the Being, sweet beyond conception, 
loves to be moved by the glowing and most pure 
minds into manifestation, and imparts Its most 
Divine inspirations, in cheerful distributions, to 
those who thus supermundanely call It forth. Thus 
the most Divine Order of supercelestial Beings did 

120 Dionysius the Areopagite 

not fail to recognize * the most supremely Divine 
Jesus, when He descended for the purpose of being 
sanctified ; but recognizes, reverently, Him lowering 
Himself in our belongings, through Divine and in- 
expressible goodness ; and when viewing Him sancti- 
fied, in a manner befitting man, by the Father h and 
Himself 1 and the Holy Spirit k , recognized its own 
supreme Head as being essentially unchanged, in 
whatever He may do as supreme 1 God. Hence the 
tradition of the sacred symbols places the Seraphim 
near the Divine Muron, when it is being consecrated, 
recognizing and describing the Christ as unchanged, 
in our complete™ manhood in very truth. And what 
is still more divine is, that it uses the Divine Muron 
for the consecration of every thing sacred, distinctly 
shewing, according to the Logion, the Sanctified 
Sanctifying, as always being the same with Himself 
throughout the whole supremely Divine sanctification. 
Wherefore also the consecrating gift and grace of 
the Divine Birth in God is completed in the most 
Divine perfectings of the Muron. Whence, as I 
think, the Hierarch pouring the Muron upon the 
purifying font in cruciform injections, brings to view, 
for contemplative eyes, the Lord Jesus descending 
even to death itself through the cross n , for our Birth 
in God, benevolently drawing up, from the old gulp- 
ing of the destructive death, by the same Divine 
and resistless descent, those, who, according to the 

8 I Tim. iii. 16. h John x. 36. I Ibid. xvii. 19. 

k Rom. i. 4. 1 eeapxiKas. m i vav e pU) Tfhoei. 

» Phil. ii. 8. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 121 

mysterious saying, " are baptized into His death °," 
and renewing them to a godly and eternal existence p . 

Section XI. 

But further, the perfecting unction of the Muron 
gives to him who has been initiated in the most 
sacred initiation of the Birth in God, the abiding 
of the supremely Divine Spirit ; the sacred imagery 
of the symbols, portraying, as I think, the most 
Divine Spirit abundantly supplied by Him, Who, for 
our sakes, has been sanctified as man by the su- 
premely Divine Spirit, in an unaltered condition of 
His essential Godhead. 

Section XII. 

And bear this also hierarchically in mind, that the 
Law of the most pure initiation completes the sacred 
consecration of the Divine Altar, by the all pure 
effusions of the most holy Muron. And the super- 
celestial and superessential contemplation is source 
and essence, and perfecting power, of all our deifying 
holiness. For if our most Divine Altar is Jesus— 
the supremely Divine sanctifying of the Godly Minds 
— in Whom, according to the Logion, " being sancti- 
fied and mystically offered as a whole burnt-offering, 
we have the access V let us gaze with supermundane 
eyes upon the most Divine Altar itself (in which things 
being perfected, are perfected and sanctified), being 
perfected from the most Divine Muron itself; for 

Rom. vi. 3. P Ibid. 4. * Eph. iii. 12. 

122 Dionysius the Areopagite 

the altogether most holy Jesus sanctifies Himself on 
our behalf, and fills us full of every sanctification, 
since the things consecrated 1- upon them pass fra- 
ternally afterwards in their beneficent effects to us, 
as children of God. Hence, as I think, the Divine 
Leaders of our Hierarchy, in conformity with a Hier- 
archical conception divinely transmitted, name this 
altogether august ministration "consecration of 
Muron," from "being consecrated thoroughly," as 
one might say, " consecration of God s ," extolling its 
divine consecrating work in each sense. For both 
the being sanctified for our sakes, as becomes Man, 
and the consecrating all things as supreme God, and 
the sanctifying things being consecrated, is "con- 
secration of Him." As for the sacred song of the 
inspiration of the God-rapt Prophets, it is called by 
those who know Hebrew, the " Praise of God," or 
" Praise ye the Lord," for since every divine mani- 
festation and work of God is reverently portrayed in 
the varied composition of the Hierarchical symbols, 
it is not unfitting to mention the Divinely moved 
song of the Prophets ; for it teaches at once, dis- 
tinctly and reverently, that the beneficent works of 
the Divine Goodness are worthy of devout praise. 

r Observe the doctrine of the Atonement, hr" avrSiv, Jesus 
and the Altar, eV avry is also another reading. 
8 re\(Tr)u ©eov. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 123 

/. Concerning sacerdotal Consecrations. 
Section I. 
Such, then, is the most Divine perfecting work of 
the Muron. But it may be opportune, after these 
Divine ministrations, to set forth the sacerdotal 
Orders and elections themselves, and their powers, 
and operations, and consecrations, and the triad of 
the superior ranks under them ; in order that the 
arrangement of our Hierarchy may be demonstrated, 
as entirely rejecting and excluding the disordered, 
the unregulated, and the confused; and, at the same 
time, choosing and manifesting the regulated and 
ordered, and well-established, in the gradations of 
the sacred Ranks within it. Now we have well shewn, 
as I think, in the Hierarchies already extolled by us, 
the threefold division of every Hierarchy, when we 
affirmed that our sacred tradition holds, that every 
Hierarchical transaction is divided into * the most 
Divine Mystic Rites, and u the inspired experts and. 
teachers of them, and those who are being religiously 
initiated x by them. 

Section II. 

Thus the most holy Hierarchy of the supercelestial 

Beings has, for its initiation, its own possible and 

most°immaterial conception of God and things Divine, 

and the complete likeness to God, and a persistent 

t T€ A C Tas. u h'Qiovs iwivrlipovas. x rt\ovfi4vovs^ 

I2 4 Dionysius the Areopagite 

habit of imitating God, as far as permissible. And 
its illuminators, and leaders to this sacred conse- 
cration, are the very first Beings around God. For 
these generously and proportionately transmit to the 
subordinate sacred Ranks the ever deifying notions 
given to them, by the self-perfect Godhead and the 
wise-making Divine Minds. Now the Ranks, who are 
subordinate to the first Beings, are, and are truly 
called, the initiated Orders, as being religiously con- 
ducted, through those, to the deifying illumination of 
the Godhead. And after this,-the heavenly and 
supermundane Hierarchy,— the Godhead gave the 
Hierarchy under the Law, imparting its most holy 
gifts, for the benefit of our race, to them (as being 
children according to the Logion *), by faint images of 
the true, and copies -far from the Archetypes, and 
enigmas hard to understand % and types having the 
contemplation enveloped within, as an analogous light 
not easily discerned b , so as not to wound weak eyes 
by the light shed upon them. Now to this Hierarchy 
under the Law, the elevation to spiritual worship • is 
an initiation. Now the men religiously instructed for 
that holy tabernacle d by Moses,— the first initiated 
and leader of the . Hierarchs under the Law,— were 
conductors; in reference to which holy tabernacle- 
when describing for purposes of instruction the Hier- 
archy under the Law,— he called all the sacred 
services of the Law an image of the type shewn 

7 Gal. iv. 3. z Heb. x. 1. a Num> xii< 8> 

Rom. 11. 20. c j ohn ft 23> d Heb> . x _ 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 125 

to him in Mount Sinai e . But " initiated " are those 
who are being conducted to a more perfect revelation 
of the symbols of the Law, in proportion to their 
capacity. Now the Word of God calls our Hierarchy 
the more perfect revelation, naming it a fulfilment 1 
of that, and a holy inheritance. It is both heavenly 
and legal, like the mean between extremes, common 
to the one, by intellectual contemplations, and to the 
other, because it is variegated by sensible signs; and, 
through these, reverently conducts to the Divine 
Being. And it has likewise a threefold division 
of the Hierarchy, which is divided into the most 
holy ministrations of the Mystic Rites, and into the 
Godlike ministers of holy things, and those who are 
being conducted by them, according to their capacity, 
to things holy. 

And each of the three divisions of our Hierarchy, 
comformably to that of the Law, and the Hierarchy, 
more divine than ours, is arranged as first and middle 
and last in power; consulting both reverent pro- 
portion, and well-ordered and concordant fellowship 
of all things ia harmonious rank. 

Section III. 
The most holy ministration, then, of the Mystic 
Rites has, as first Godlike power, the holy cleansing 
of the uninitiated ; and as middle, the enlightening 
instruction of the purified ; and as last, and summary 
of the former, the perfecting of those instructed in 

e Exod. xxv. 40. f Matt. v. 17. 

126 Dionysius the Areopagite 

science of their proper instructions ; and the order of 
the Ministers, in the first power, cleanses the un- 
initiated through the Mystic Rites ; and in the 
second, conducts to light the purified ; and in the 
last and highest of the Ministering Powers, makes 
perfect those who have participated in the Divine 
light, by the scientific completions of the illuminations 
contemplated. And of the Initiated, the first power 
is that being purified; and the middle is that being 
enlightened, after the cleansing, and which contem- 
plates certain holy things; and the last and more 
divine than the others, is that enlightened in the 
perfecting science of the holy enlightenment of which 
it has become a contemplator. Let, then, the three- 
fold power of the holy service of the Mystic Rites 
be extolled, since the Birth in God is exhibited in 
the Oracles as a purification and enlightening illumin- 
ation, and the Rite of the Synaxis and the Muron, 
as a perfecting knowledge and science of the works 
of God, through which the unifying elevation to the 
Godhead and most blessed communion is reverently 
perfected. And now let us explain next the sacer- 
dotal Order, which is divided into a purifying and 
illuminating and perfecting discipline. 

Section IV. 
This, then, is the all-sacred Law of the Godhead, 
that, through the first, the second are conducted to 
Its most Divine splendour. Do we not see the 
material substances of the elements, first approach- 
ing, by preference, things which are more congenial 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 


to them, and, through these, diffusing their own 
energy to other things? Naturally, then, the Head 
and foundation of all good order, invisible and 
visible, causes the deifying rays to approach the more 
Godlike first, and through them, as being more trans- 
parent Minds, and more properly adapted for re- 
ception and transmission of Light, transmits light and 
manifestations to the subordinate, in proportions 
suitable to them. 

It is, then, the function of these, the first contem- 
plators of God, to exhibit ungrudgingly to those 
second, in proportion to their capacity, the Divine 
visions reverently gazed upon by themselves, and to 
reveal the things relating to the Hierarchy (since 
they have been abundantly instructed with a perfect- 
ing science in all matters relating to their own Hier- 
archy, and have received the effectual power of 
instruction), and to impart sacred gifts according 
to fitness, since they scientifically and wholly par- 
ticipate in sacerdotal perfection. 

Section V. 
The Divine Rank of the Hierarchy then, is the 
first of the God-contemplative Ranks; and it is, at 
the same time, highest and lowest; inasmuch as 
every Order of our Hierarchy is summed up and 
fulfilled in it. For, as we see every Hierarchy 
terminated in the Lord Jesus, so we see each 
terminated in its own inspired Hierarch. Now the 
power of the Hierarchical Rank permeates the whole 

128 Diojiysins the Areopagite 

sacred body, and through every one of the sacred 
Ranks performs the mysteries of its proper Hier- 
archy. But, pre-eminently, to it, rather than to the 
other Ranks, the Divine institution assigned the 
more Divine ministrations. For these are the per- 
fecting images of the supremely Divine Power 
completing all the most Divine symbols and all 
the sacred orderings. For though some of the 
worshipful symbols are consecrated by the Priests 
yet never will the Priest effect the holy Birth in 
God without the most Divine Muron ; nor will he 
consecrate the mysteries of the Divine Communion, 
unless the communicating symbols have been placed 
upon the most Divine Altar; and neither will he be 
Priest himself, unless he has been elected to this by 
the Hierarchical consecrations. Hence the Divine 
Institution uniquely assigned the dedication of the 
Hierarchical Ranks, and the consecration of the 
Divine Muron and the sacred completion of the 
Altar, to the perfecting powers of the inspired 

Section VI. 
It is, then, the Hierarchical Rank which, full of 
the perfecting power, pre-eminently completes the 
perfecting functions of the Hierarchy, and reveals 
lucidly the sciences of the holy mysteries, and 
teaches their proportionate and sacred conditions 
and powers. But the illuminating Rank of the 
Priests conducts those, who are being initiated 
under the Rank of the inspired Hierarchs, to the 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 129 

Divine visions of the Mystic Rites, and in co-opera- 
tion with it, ministers its proper ministrations. 
Whatever then this Rank may do, by shewing 
the works of God, through the most holy symbols, 
and perfecting those who draw nigh in the Divine 
contemplations, and communion of the holy rites, 
it yet refers those, who crave the science of the 
religious services contemplated, to the Hierarch. 
And the Rank of the Leitourgoi (which is puri- 
fying and separates the unfit, previous to the 
approach to the ministrations of the Priests), 
thoroughly purifies those who are drawing nigh, 
by making them entirely pure from opposing pas- 
sions, and suitable for the sanctifying vision and 
communion. Hence, during the service of the 
Birth in God, the Leitourgoi strip him who draws 
nigh of his old clothing, yea further, even take 
off his sandals, and make him stand towards the 
west for renunciation; and again, they lead him 
back to the east (for they are of the purifying 
rank and power), enjoining on those who approach 
to entirely cast away the surroundings of their 
former life, and shewing the darkness of their 
former conduct, and teaching those, who have 
said farewell to the lightless, to transfer their al- 
legiance to the luminous. The Leitourgical Order, 
then, is purifying, by leading those who have been 
purified to the bright ministrations of the Priests, 
both by thoroughly purifying the uninitiated and by 
bringing to birth, by the purifying illuminations and 
teachings of the Oracles, and further, by sending 


13° Dionysius the Areopagite 

away from the Priests the unholy, without respect 
of persons. Wherefore also the Hierarchical insti- 
tution places it at the holy gates, suggesting that the 
approach of those who draw nigh to holy things 
should be in altogether complete purification, and 
entrusting the approach to their reverent vision and 
communion to the purifying powers, and admitting 
them, through these, without spot. 

Section VII. 
We have shewn, then, that the Rank of the Hier- 
archs is consecrating and perfecting, that of the 
Priests, illuminating and conducting to the light; 
and that of the Leitourgoi purifying and discrimi- 
nating; that is to say, the Hierarchical Rank is 
appointed not only to perfect, but also at the same 
time, to enlighten and to purify, and has within itself 
the purifying sciences of the power of the Priests to- 
gether with the illuminating. For the inferior Ranks 
cannot cross to the superior functions, and, besides 
this, it is not permitted to them to take in hand 
such quackery as that. Now the more Divine Orders 
know also, together with their own, the sacred sciences 
subordinate to their own perfection. Nevertheless, 
since the sacerdotal orderings of the well-arranged 
and unconfused order of the Divine operations are 
images of Divine operations, they were arranged in 
Hierarchical distinctions, shewing in themselves the 
illuminations marshalled into the first, and middle, 
and last, sacred operations and Ranks ; manifesting, 
as I said, in themselves the well-ordered and uncon- 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 131 

fused character of the Divine operations. For since 
the Godhead first cleanses the minds which He may 
enter, then enlightens, and, when enlightened, per- 
fects them to a Godlike perfection ; naturally the 
Hierarchical of the Divine images divides itself into 
well-defined Ranks and powers, shewing clearly the 
supremely. Divine operation firmly established, with- 
out confusion, in most hallowed and unmixed Ranks. 
But, since we have spoken, as attainable to us, of the 
sacerdotal Ranks and elections, and their powers and 
operations, let us now contemplate their most holy 
consecrations as well as we can. 

//. Mysterion of Sacerdotal Consecrations. 

The Hierarch, then, being led to the Hierarchical 
consecration, after he has bent both his s knees 
before the Altar, has upon his head h the God- 
transmitted oracles, and the Hierarchical hand, 
and in this manner is consecrated 1 by the Hier- 
arch, who ordains him by the altogether most holy 
invocations. And the Priest, after he has bent both 
his knees before the Divine Altar, has the Hier- 
archical right hand upon his head, and in this 
manner is dedicated 151 by the Hierarch, who ordains 
him with hallowing invocations. And the Leitourgos, 
after he has bent one of two knees before the Divine 
Altar, has upon his head the right hand of the Hier- 
arch who ordains him, being completed 1 by him 

8 &n^)w T<i> 7ro'Se. h Ap. C. iv, s. 20 ; iv. s. IJ ; viii. s. 4. 
1 o7roT€A€toi/TOt. k ay i&feai. l T<-\eiov/j.ivos. 

l 3* Dlonysius the Areopagile 

with the initiating invocations of the Leitourgoi. 
Upon each of them the cruciform seal m is impressed, 
by the ordaining Hierarch, and, in each case,' 
a sacred proclamation of name takes place, and 
a perfecting salutation, since every sacerdotal person 
present, and the Hierarch who ordained, salute him 
who has been enrolled to any of the aforenamed 
sacerdotal Ranks. 

III. Contemplation. 
Section I. 

These things, then, are common both to the Hier- 
archs, and Priests, and Leitourgoi, in their sacerdotal 
consecrations,— the conducting to the Divine Altar 
and kneeling,— the imposition of the Hierarchical 
hand,— the cruciform seal,— the announcement of 
name,— the completing salutation. 

And special and select for the Hierarchs is the 
imposition of the Oracles upon the head, since the 
subordinate Ranks have not this; and for the Priests 
the bending of both knees, since the consecration of 
the Leitourgoi has not this ; for the Leitourgoi, as 
has been said, bend the one of two knees only. 

Section II. 

The conducting then to the Divine Altar, and 

kneeling, suggests to all those who are being sacer- 

dotally ordained, that their own life is entirely placed 

under God, as source of consecration, and that their 

m a<ppayls. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 133 

whole intellectual self, all pure and hallowed, ap- 
proaches to Him, and that it is of one likeness, and, 
as far as possible, meet for the supremely Divine 
and altogether most holy, both Victim" and Altar, 
which purifies, sacerdotally, the Godlike Minds. 

Section III. 

And the imposition of the Hierarchical hand 
signifies at once the consecrating protection, by 
which, as holy children, they are paternally tended, 
which bequeaths to them a sacerdotal condition and 
power, and drives away their adverse powers, and 
teaches, at the same time also, to perform the sacer- 
dotal operations, as those who, having been conse- 
crated, are acting under God, and have Him as 
Leader of their own operations in every respect. 

Section IV. 
And the cruciform seal manifests the inaction of 
all the impulses of the flesh, and the God-imitated 
life looking away unflinchingly to the manly most 
Divine life of Jesus, Who came even to Cross and 
death with a supremely Divine sinlessness, and 
stamped those who so live with the cruciform image 
of His own sinlessness as of the same likeness. 

Section V. 

And the Hierarch calls aloud the name of the 
consecrations and of those consecrated, the mystery 
denoting that the God-beloved consecrator is mani- 
n Christ. 

*34 Dionysius the Areopagite 

festor of the supremely Divine choice,— not of his 
own accord or by his own favour leading those who 
are ordained to the sacerdotal consecration, but 
being moved by God to all the Hierarchical dedi- 
cations. Thus Moses, the consecrator under the 
Law, does not lead even Aaron, his brother, to 
sacerdotal consecration, though thinking him both 
beloved of God and fit for the priesthood, until 
moved by God to this, he in submission to God, 
Head of consecration, completed by Hierarchical 
rites the sacerdotal consecration . But even our 
supremely Divine and first Consecrator (for the most 
philanthropic Jesus, for our sake, became even this), 
did "not glorify Himself," as the Logia say, but He 
Who said to Him, "Thou* art Priest for ever after 
the order of Melchizedek." Wherefore also whilst 
Himself leading the disciples to sacerdotal conse- 
cration, although being as God chief Consecrator, 
nevertheless He refers the Hierarchical completion 
of the work of consecration to His altogether most 
Holy Father, and the supremely Divine Spirit, by 
admonishing the disciples, as the Oracles say, not 
to depart from Jerusalem, but to " await the promise 
of the Father, which ye heard of Me, that ye shall 
be baptized in Holy Ghost V And indeed, the 
Coryphaeus of the disciples himself, with the ten, 
of the same rank and Hierarchy with himself, when 
he proceeded to the sacerdotal consecration of the 
twelfth of the disciples, piously left the selection to 

° Exod. xxix. 4. P Ps. ex. 4. q Acts i. 4, 5. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 135 

the Godhead, saying, "Shew 1- whom Thou hast 
chosen," and received him, who was divinely desig- 
nated by the Divine lot, into the Hierarchical 
number of the sacred twelve. Now concerning 
the Divine lot, which fell as a Divine intimation 
upon Matthias, others have expressed another view, 
not clearly, as I think, but I will express my own 
sentiment. For it seems to me that the Oracles 
name " lot " a certain supremely Divine gift, pointing 
out to that Hierarchical Choir him who was desig- 
nated by the Divine election ; more particularly, 
because the Divine Hierarch must not perform the 
sacerdotal acts of his own motion, but, under God, 
moving him to do them as prescribed by the Hier- 
archy and Heaven. 

Section VI. 
Now the salutation, for the completion of the 
sacerdotal consecration, has a religious significance. 
For all the members of the sacerdotal Ranks present, 
as well as the Hierarch himself who has consecrated 
them, salute the ordained. For when, by sacerdotal 
habits and powers, and by Divine call and dedica- 
tion, a religious mind has attained to sacerdotal 
completion, he is dearly loved by the most holy 
Orders of the same rank, being conducted to a 
most Godlike comeliness, loving the minds similar 
to himself, and religiously loved by them in return. 
Hence it is that the mutual sacerdotal salutation 
is religiously performed, proclaiming the religious 

r Acts i. 24. Ap. C. p. 168. 

I3 6 Dionysius the AreopagiU 

communion of minds of like character, and their 
loveable benignity towards each other, as keeping 
throughout, by sacerdotal training, their most God- 
like comeliness. 

Section VII 
These things, as I said, are common to the whole 
sacerdotal consecration. The Hierarch, however, 
as a distinctive mark, has the Oracles most reverently 
placed upon his head. For since the perfecting 
power and science of the whole Priesthood is be- 
queathed to the inspired Hierarchs, by the supremely 
Divine and perfecting goodness, naturally are placed 
upon the heads of the Hierarchs the Divinely trans- 
mitted Oracles, which set forth comprehensively 
and scientifically every teaching of God", work 
of God, manifestation of God, sacred word, sacred 
work, in one word, all the Divine and sacred works 
and words bequeathed to our Hierarchy by the 
beneficent Godhead; since the Godlike Hierarch, 
having participated entirely in the whole Hierar- 
chical power, will not only be illuminated, in the 
true and God-transmitted science of all the sacred 
words and works committed to the Hierarchy, but 
will also transmit them to others in Hierarchical 
proportions, and will perfect Hierarchically in most 
Divine kinds of knowledge and the highest mystical 
instructions, all the most perfecting functions of the 
whole Hierarchy. And the distinctive feature of the 
ordination of Priests, as contrasted with the ordering 

8 -ndaris Qeo^yias. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 137 

of the Leitourgoi, is the bending of the two knees, 
as that bends only the one, and is ordained in this 
Hierarchical fashion. 

Section VIII. 
The bending then denotes the subordinate intro- 
duction of the conductor, who places under God that 
which is reverently introduced. And since, as we 
have often said, the three Orders of the consecrators, 
through the three most holy Mystic Rites and powers, 
preside over the three ranks of those initiated, and 
minister their saving introduction under the Divine 
yokes, naturally the order of Leitourgoi as only puri- 
fying, ministers the one introduction of those who 
are being purified, by placing it under the Divine 
Altar, since in it the minds being purified, are 
supermundanely hallowed. And the Priests bend 
both their knees, since those who are religiously 
brought nigh by them have not only been purified, 
but have been ministerially perfected into a contem- 
plative habit and power of a life thoroughly cleansed 
by their most luminous ministrations through instruc- 
tion. And the Hierarch, bending both his knees, 
has upon his head the God-transmitted Oracles, 
leading, through his office of Hierarch, those who 
have been purified by the Leitourgic power, and 
enlightened by the ministerial, to the science of 
the holy things contemplated by them in proportion 
to their capacities, and through this science perfect- 
ing those who are brought nigh, into the most com- 
plete holiness of which they are capable. 

x 3 8 Dionysius the Areopagite 

/. Concerning the Ranks of the Initiated. 
Section I. 
These, then, are the sacerdotal Ranks and elections 
their powers, and operations, and consecrations' 
We must next explain the triad of the Ranks being 
initiated under them. We affirm then that the mul- 
titudes, of whom we have already made mention, who 
are dismissed from the ministrations and consecra- 
tions, are Ranks under purification; since one is 
being yet moulded and fashioned by the Leitourgoi 
through the obstetric Oracles to a living birth; and 
another is yet to be called back to the holy life, from 
which it had departed, by the hortatory teaching of 
the good Oracles; and another, as being yet terror- 
ized, through want of manliness, by opposing fears, 
and being fortified by the strengthening Oracles ; and 
another, as being yet led back from the worse 
to holy efforts; and another as having been led 
back, indeed, but not yet having a chaste fixedness 
in more Godlike and tranquil habits. For these are 
the Orders under purification, by the nursing and 
purifying power of the Leitourgoi. These, the Lei- 
tourgoi perfect, by their sacred powers, for the 
purpose of their being brought, after their complete 
cleansing, to the enlightening contemplation and 
participation in the most luminous ministrations. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 139 

Section II. 

And a middle rank is the contemplative, which 
participates in certain Divine Offices in all purity, 
according to its capacity, which is assigned to the 
Priests for its enlightenment. 

For it is evident, in my opinion, that, that having 
been cleansed from all unholy impurity, and having 
acquired the pure and unmoved steadfastness of 
its own mind, is led back, ministerially, to the 
contemplative habit and power, and communicates 
the most Divine symbols, according to its capability, 
filled with every holy joy in their contemplations 
and communions, mounting gradually to the Divine 
love of their science, through their elevating powers. 
This, I affirm, is the rank of the holy people, as 
having passed through complete purification, and 
deemed worthy, as far as is lawful, both of the 
reverent vision, and participation of the most lumi- 
nous Mystic Rites. 

Section III. 
Now the rank, higher than all the initiated, is 
the sacred Order of the Monks, which, by reason 
of an entirely purified purification, through complete 
power and perfect chastity of its own operations, 
has attained to intellectual contemplation and com- 
munion in every ministration which it is lawful for it 
to contemplate, and is conducted by the most perfect- 
ing powers of the Hierarchs, and taught by their 
inspired illuminations and hierarchical traditions the 
ministrations of the Mystic Rites, contemplated, ac- 

T 4° Dionysius the Arcopagite 

cording to its capacity, and elevated by their sacred 
science, to the most perfecting perfection of which 
it is capable. Hence our Divine leaders have deemed 
them worthy of sacred appellations, some, indeed, 
calling them " Therapeutae," and others " Monks," 
from the pure service and fervid devotion to the true 
God, and from the undivided and single life, as it 
were unifying them, in the sacred enfoldings of 
things divided, into a God-like Monad, and God- 
loving perfection. Wherefore the Divine institution 
accorded them a consecrating grace, and deemed 
them worthy of a certain hallowing invocation— not 
hierarchical— for that is confined to the sacerdotal 
orders alone, but ministrative, as being ministered, 
by the pious Priests, by the hierarchial consecration 
in the second degree. 

II. Mysterion on Monastic Consecration. 

The Priest then stands before the Divine Altar, 
religiously pronouncing the invocation for Monks. 
The ordinand stands behind the Priest, neither bend- 
ing both knees, nor one of them, nor having upon 
his head the Divinely-transmitted Oracles, but only 
standing near the Priest, who pronounces over him 
the mystical invocation. When the Priest has fin- 
ished this, he approaches the ordinand, and asks him 
first, if he bids farewell to all the distracted— not 
lives only, but also imaginations. Then he sets 
before him the most perfect life, testifying that it is 
his bounden duty to surpass the ordinary life. When 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 14* 

the ordinand has promised steadfastly all these things, 
the Priest, after he has sealed him with the sign of 
the Cross, crops his hair, after an invocation to the 
threefold Subsistence of the Divine Beatitude, and 
when he has stripped off all his clothing, he covers 
him with different, and when, with all the holy men 
present, he has saluted him, he finishes by making 
him partaker of the supremely Divine Mysteries. 

III. Contemplatio7i. 

Section I. 

The fact that he bends neither knee, nor has upon 
his head the Divinely-transmitted Oracles, but stands 
by the Priest, who pronounces the invocation, sig- 
nifies, that the monastic Rank is not for leading others, 
but stands by itself, in a monastic and holy state, 
following the sacerdotal Ranks, and readily conducted 
by them, as a follower, to the Divine science of 
sacred things, according to its capacity. 

Section II. 

And the renunciation of the divided, not only lives, 
but even imaginations, shews the most perfect love of 
wisdom in the Monks, which exercises itself in science 
of the unifying commandments. For it is, as I said, 
not of the middle Rank of the initiated, but of the 
higher than all. 

Section III. 

Therefore many of the things, which are done 
without reproach by the middle Rank, are forbidden 

M2 Donysius the Areopagile 

in every way to the single Monks.-inasmuch as they 
are under obligation to be unified to the One and 
to be collected to a sacred Monad, and to be trans- 
formed to the sacerdotal life, as far as lawful as 
possessmg an affinity to it in many things, and as 
being nearer to it than the other Ranks of the initi 
ated. Now the sealing with the sign of the Cross 
as we have already said, denotes the inaction of 
almost all the desires of the flesh. And the cropping 
of the hair shews the pure and unpretentious life 
which does not beautify the darkness within the 
mind, by overlaying it with smeared pretence, but 
that it by itself is being led, not by human attractions 
but by single and monastic, to the highest likeness 
of God. 

Section IV. 
The casting aside of the former clothing, and the 
taking a different, is intended to shew the transition 
from a middle religious life to the more perfect : just 
as durmg the holy Birth from God, the exchange 
of the clothing denoted the elevation of a thoroughly 
purified life, to a contemplative and enlightened 
condition. And even if now also the Priest, and all 
the religious present, salute the man ordained, under- 
stand from this the holy fellowship of the Godlike 
who lovingly congratulate each other in a Divine 

Section V. 
Last of all, the Priest calls the ordained to the 
supremely Divine Communion, shewing religiously 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 143 

that the ordained, if he would really attain to the 
monastic and single elevation, will not merely con- 
template the sacred mysteries within them, nor come 
to the communion of the most holy symbols, after the 
fashion of the middle Rank, but, with a Divine know- 
ledge of the holy things received by him, will come 
to the reception of the supremely Divine Communion, 
in a manner different from that of the holy people. 
Wherefore, the Communion of the most holy Eu- 
charist is also given to the sacerdotal Orders, in 
their consecrating dedications, by the Hierarch who 
consecrated them, at the end of their most holy 
sanctifications, not only because the reception of the 
supremely Divine Mysteries is the consummation of 
each Hierarchical reception, but because all the 
sacred Orders, according to their capacity, partake of 
the self-same common and most godly gifts, for their 
own elevation and perfection in deification. We 
conclude, then, that the holy Mystic Rites are, 
purification, and illumination, and consecration. The 
Leitourgoi are a purifying rank, the Priests an illu- 
minating, and the Godlike Hierarchs a consecrating. 
But the holy people is a contemplative Order. That 
which does not participate in the sacred contem- 
plation and communion, is a Rank being purified, as 
still under course of purification. The holy people is 
a contemplative Rank, and that of the single Monks 
is a perfected Rank. For thus our Hierarchy, rever- 
ently arranged in Ranks fixed by God, is like the 
Heavenly Hierarchies, preserving, so far as man can 
do, its God-imitated and Godlike characteristics. 

144 Dionysiui the Areopagite 

Section VI. 
But thou wilt say that the Ranks undergoing puri- 
fication utterly fall short of the Heavenly Hierarchies 
(for it is neither permitted nor true to say that any 
heavenly Ordering is defiled), yea, I would altogether 
affirm myself, that they are entirely without blemish, 
and possess a perfect purity above this world, unless 
I had completely fallen away from a religious mind. 
For if any of them should have become captive to 
evil, and have fallen from the heavenly and undefiled 
harmony of the divine Minds, he would be brought 
to the gloomy fall of the rebellious multitudes. But 
one may reverently say with regard to the Heavenly 
Hierarchy, that the illuminating from God in things 
hitherto unknown is a purification to the subordinate 
Beings, leading them to a more perfect science of the 
supremely Divine kinds of knowledge, and purifying 
them as far as possible from the ignorance of those 
things of which they had not hitherto the science, 
conducted, as they are, by the first and more Divine 
Beings to the higher and more luminous splendours 
of the visions of God : and so there are Ranks being 
illuminated and perfected, and purifying and illu- 
minating and perfecting, after the example of the 
Heavenly Hierarchy ; since the highest and more 
Divine Beings purify the- subordinate, holy, and 
reverent Orders, from all ignorance (in ranks and 
proportions of the Heavenly Hierarchies), and filling 
them with the most Divine illuminatings, and per- 
fecting in the most pure science of the supremely 
Divine conceptions. For we have already said, and 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 145 

the Oracles divinely demonstrate, that all the hea- 
venly Orders are not the same, in all the sacred 
sciences of the God-contemplating visions ; but the 
first, from God immediately, and, through these, 
again from God, the subordinate are illuminated, in 
proportion to their powers, with the most luminous 
glories of the supremely Divine ray. 


I. Concerning things performed over those fallen 

Section I. 

These things having been defined, I think it 
necessary also to describe the things religiously per- 
formed by us over those who have fallen asleep. 
For neither is this also the same between the 
holy and the unholy; but, as the form of life of 
each is different, so also, when approaching death, 
those who have led a religious life, by looking 
steadfastly to the unfailing promises of the Godhead 
(inasmuch as they have observed their proof, in the 
resurrection proclaimed by it), come to the goal of 
death, with firm and unfailing hope, in godly rejoic- 
ing, knowing that at the end of holy contests their 
condition will be altogether in a perfect and endless 
life and safety, through their future entire resurrec- 
tion *. For the holy souls, which may possibly fall 

* Soul first — body afterwards. 

146 Dionysius the Areopagite 

during this present life to a change for the worse 
in the regeneration, will have the most Godlike transi- 
tion to an unchangeable « condition. Now, the pure 
bodies which are enrolled together as yoke-fellows 
and companions of the holy souls, and have fought 
together within their Divine struggles in the un- 
changed steadfastness of their souls throughout the 
divine life, will jointly receive their own resurrec- 
tion * ; for, having been united with the holy souls 
to which they were united in this present life, by 
having become members r of Christ, they will receive 
in return the Godlike and imperishable immortality 
and blessed repose \ In this respect then the sleep 
of the holy is in comfort and unshaken hopes, as 
it attains the goal of the Divine contests a . 

Section II. 
Now, amongst the profane, some b illogically think 
to go to a non-existence; others • that the bodily 
blending with their proper souls will be severed 
once for all, as unsuitable to them in a Divine life 
and blessed lots, not considering nor being suffi- 
ciently instructed in Divine science, that our most 
Godlike life in Christ has already begun <*. But 
others e assign to souls union with other bodies 
committing ', as I think, this injustice to them, that' 
after (bodies) have laboured together with the godly 
* 1 John iii. 2. x , Con xv ^ y Ib . d v . 

5? JV 1 ' " 2 Tim - iv - 6 ~ 8 ' b PIato ' Ph * d - *• st 
'Ibid. 1.62-3. ^ Col. iii. 3, 4 . ep^iJ 

1 adiKWVTfs, Ap. C. v. s. 5 — 7. 

on the Eccksiatical Hierarchy. 147 

souls, and have reached the goal of their most Divine 
course, they relentlessly deprive them of their right- 
eous retributions. And others* (I do not know how 
they have strayed to conceptions of such earthly 
tendency) say, that the most holy and blessed repose 
promised to the devout is similar to our life in this 
world, and unlawfully reject, for those who are equal 
to the Angels, nourishments appropriate to another 
kind of life. None of the most religious men, how- 
ever, will ever fall into such errors as these; but, 
knowing that their whole selves will receive the Christ- 
like inheritance, when they have come to the goal of 
this present life, they see more clearly their road to 
incorruption already become nearer, and extol the 
gifts of the Godhead, and are filled with a Divine 
satisfaction, no longer fearing the fall to a worse con- 
dition, but knowing well that they will hold firmly 
and everlastingly the good things already acquired. 
Those, however, who are full of blemishes, and un- 
holy stains, even though they have attained to some 
initiation, yet, of their own accord, have, to their own 
destruction, rejected this from their mind, and have 
rashly followed their destructive lusts, to them when 
they have come to the end of their life here, the Divine 
regulation of the Oracles will no longer appear as 
before, a subject of scorn h , but, when they have 
looked with different eyes upon the pleasures of their 
passions destroyed, and when they have pronounced 

g Matt. xxii. 28. 
h Republic, lib. i. p. 9. Cousin, Paris, 1833. 

T4 8 Dionysius the Areopagite 

blessed the holy life from which they thoughtlessly 
fell away, they are, piteously and against their will, 
separated from this present life, conducted to no holy 
hope, by reason of their shameful life \ 

Section III. 
Now, whilst none of these attain the repose of 
the holy men, he himself, when coming to the end 
of his own struggles, is filled with a holy consolation, 
and with much satisfaction enters the path of the 
holy regeneration. The familiar friends, however, 
of him who has fallen asleep, as befits their divine 
familiarity and fellowship, pronounce him blessed, 
whoever he is, as having reached the desired end 
crowned with victory, and they send up odes of 
thanksgiving to the Author of victory, praying also 
that they may reach the same inheritance. Then 
they take him and bring him to the Hierarch, as to 
a bequest of holy crowns ; and he right gladly receives 
him, and performs the things fixed by reverend men, 
to be performed over those who have piously fallen 

II Mysterion over (hose who have religiously 
fallen asleep. 

The Divine Hierarch collects the reverend Choir, 
and if the person who has fallen asleep were of the 
sacerdotal rank, he lays him down before the Divine 
Altar, and begins with the prayer and thanksgiving 

i Ps. cxii. io. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 149 

to God ; but if he belonged to the rank of the chaste 
Monks, or the holy people, he lays him down near 
the hallowed sanctuary, before the sacerdotal en- 
trance. Then the Hierarch finishes the prayer of 
thanksgiving to God ; and next, the Leitourgoi, after 
reading the unfailing promises concerning our holy 
resurrection, contained in the Divine Oracles, rever- 
ently chant the odes of the same teaching and power, 
from the Oracles of the Psalter k . Then the first 
Leitourgos dismisses the catechumens, and calls aloud 
the names of the holy people, who have already fallen 
asleep ; amongst whom he deems the man, who has 
just terminated his life, worthy of mention in the 
same rank, and urges all to seek the blessed consum- 
mation in Christ; then the Divine Hierarch advances, 
and offers a most holy prayer over him, and after the 
prayer both the Hierarch himself salutes the defunct, 
and after him, all who are present. When all have 
saluted, the Hierarch pours the oil upon the fallen 
asleep, and when he has offered the holy prayer for 
all, he places the body in a worthy chamber, with 
other holy bodies of the same rank. 

III. Contemplation, 

Section I. 

Now, if the profane should see or hear that these 
things are done by us, they will, I suppose, split 
with laughter, and commiserate us on our folly. But 

k See Burial Office. 

!^o Dionysius the Areopagite 

there is no need to wonder at this. For, as the 
Oracles say, " If they will not believe, neither shall 
they understand 1 ." And as for us, who have con- 
templated the spiritual meaning of the things done, 
whilst Jesus leads us to the light, let us say, that, 
not without reason, does the Hierarch conduct to, 
and place the man fallen asleep, in the place of the 
same rank ; for it shews reverently, that, in the 
regeneration, all will be in those chosen inheritances, 
for which they have chosen their own life here" 1 . 
For example, if any one led a Godlike and most holy 
life here, so far as the imitation of God is attainable 
by man, he will be, in the age to come, in divine 
and blessed inheritances ; but if he led a life inferior 
to the divine likeness in the highest degree, but, 
nevertheless, a holy life, even this man will receive 
the holy and similar retributions. The Hierarch, 
having given thanks for this Divine righteousness, 
offers a sacred prayer, and extols the worshipful 
Godhead, as subjugating the unjust and tyrannical 
power against us all, and conducting us back to our 
own most just possessions 11 (or judgments). 

Section II. 

Now, the Chants and Readings of the supremely 

Divine promises are explanatory of the most blessed 

inheritances, to which those, who have attained a 

Divine perfection, shall be eternally appointed, and 

l Wisdom iii. 9. m h**K\w*<rav. See Papias, fragment 5. 

n Kpiuara in text. I suggest Kriifxara. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. i 5 l 

descriptive of him who has religiously fallen asleep, 
and stimulative of those, who are still living, to the 
same perfection. 

Section III. 
Observe, however, that not all the ranks 
under purification are customarily dismissed, but 
only the catechumens are expelled from the holy 
places, for this class is entirely uninitiated in every 
holy Rite, and is not permitted to view any of the 
religious celebrations, great or small, inasmuch as 
it has not participated in the faculty of contem- 
plating the holy mysteries, through the Birth from 
God, which is Source and gift of light. The rest, 
however, of the ranks under purification, have already 
been under instruction in sacred tradition ; but, as 
they have foolishly returned to an evil course it is 
incumbent to complete their proper elevation in 
advance, and they are reasonably dismissed from 
the supremely Divine contemplations and commu- 
nions, as in holy symbols; for they will be 
injured, by partaking of them unholily, and will 
come to a greater contempt of the Divine Mysteries 
and themselves. 

Section IV. 
Naturally, however, they are present at the things 
now done, being clearly taught by seeing both the 
fearlessness of death amongst us, and the last honour 
of the saints extolled from the unfailing Oracles, 
and that the sufferings threatened to the unholy 

152 Dionysius the Areopagite 

like themselves will be endless ; for it will perhaps 
be profitable for them to have seen him, who has 
religiously finished his course, reverently proclaimed 
by the public proclamation of the Leitourgoi, as 
being certainly companion of the Saints for ever . 
And, perchance, even they will come to the like 
aspiration, and will be taught from the science of 
the Liturgy, that the consummation in Christ is 
blessed indeed. 

Section V. 

Then the Divine Hierarch, advancing, offers a 
holy prayer over the man fallen asleep. After the 
prayer, both the Hierarch himself salutes him, and 
next all who are present. Now the prayer beseeches 
the supremely Divine Goodness to remit to the man 
fallen asleep all the failings committed by reason of 
human infirmity, and to transfer him in light p and 
land of living % into the bosom of Abraham r , and 
Isaac, and Jacob : in a place where grief and sorrow 
and sighing are no more. It is evident, then, as 
I think, that these, the rewards of the pious, are 
most blessed. For what can be equal to an im- 
mortality entirely without grief and luminous with 
light. Especially if all the promises which pass 
man's understanding, and which are signified to us 
by signs adapted to our capacity, fall short, in their 
description, of their actual truth. For we must 

o Luke i. 70. P Ps. lvi. 13. °. Ps. cxvi. 9. 

r Luke xvi. 22. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. i53 

remember that the Logion is true, that " Eye hath 
not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into 
the heart of man to conceive, the things which God 
hath prepared for them that love* Him." " Bosoms " 
of the blessed Patriarchs, and of all the other pious 
men, are, in my judgment, the most divine and 
blessed inheritances, which await all godly men, 
in that consummation * which grows not old, and 
is full of blessedness. 

Sfxtion VI. 
But thou mayst, perhaps, say that these things are 
correctly affirmed by us, indeed, but want to know for 
what reason the Hierarch beseeches the supremely 
Divine Goodness, for the remission of the faults 
committed by the man fallen asleep, and his most 
glorious inheritance, amongst godly men of the same 
rank. For, if every one shall receive, by the Divine 
justice, equivalents for what he has done in the 
present life, whether it be good or different, and the 
man fallen asleep has finished his own activities in 
this present life, from what prayer offered by the 
Hierarch will he be transferred to another inherit- 
ance, than that due to and equivalent for his life 
here ? Now, well do I know, following the Oracles, 
that each one will have the inheritance equivalent ; 
for the Lord says, he has closed respecting him, 
and each one shall receive the things done in his 
body according- to that he hath done, whether it 

» i Cor. ii. 9. fc Luke xvi ' 22 ' 3 * 

154 Donysius the Areopagite 

be good, or whether it be bad u ." Yea, the sure 
traditions of the Oracles teach us that the prayers, 
even of the just, avail only for those who are worthy 
of pious prayers x during this present life, let alone y 
(by no means) after death. What forsooth did Saul 
gain from Samuel 55 ? and what did the intercession 
of the Prophet a profit the people of the Hebrews ? 
For, as if any one, when the sun is shedding its 
own splendour upon unblemished eyes, seeks to 
enjoy the solar splendour by obliterating his own 
powers of vision ; so does he cling to impossible 
and extravagant expectations, who beseeches the 
intercessions of holy men, and, by driving away 
the holy efforts natural to the same, plays truant 
from the most luminous and beneficent command- 
ments, through heedlessness of the Divine gifts. 

Nevertheless, according to the Oracles, I affirm 
that the intercessions of the pious b are, in every 
respect, profitable in this present life, after the fol- 
lowing fashion. If any one, longing for holy gifts, 
and having a religious disposition for their reception, 
as recognizing his own insufficiency, approaches 
some pious man, and should prevail upon him to 
' become his fellow-helper, and fellow-suppliant, he 
will be benefitted in every respect, thereby, with 
a benefit superior to all ; for he will attain the most 
Divine gifts he prays for, since the supremely Di- 
vine Goodness assists him, as well as his pious 

■ 2 Cor. v. 10. * C si. s. 13. 4. 37- y rf Tl ? 6 

juera Qavarov* 
b James v. 16. 

* 1 Sam. xvi. I. a Jer. vii. 16. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 155 

judgment of himself, and his reverence for devout 
men, and his praiseworthy craving for the religious 
requests requested, and his brotherly and Godlike 
disposition. For this has been firmly fixed by the 
supremely Divine decrees, that the Divine gifts are 
given, in an order most befitting God, to those who 
are meet to receive them, through those who are 
meet to distribute them. 

If any one, then, should despise this sacred regu- 
lation, and betaking himself to a wretched self-con- 
ceit, should deem himself sufficient for the supremely 
Divine Converse, and look down upon pious men, 
and if he should further request requests, unworthy 
of God, and not holy, and if he should have his 
aspiration for things divine not sustained, and cor- 
relative to himself, he will fail in his ignorant request, 
through his own fault. Now, with reference to the 
prayer mentioned, which the Hierarch prays over the 
man fallen asleep, we think it necessary to mention 
the tradition which has come to us from our inspired 
leaders. The Divine Hierarch, as the Oracles say, 
is interpreter of the supremely Divine awards ; for he 
is messenger c of the Lord God Omnipotent. He has 
learned then, from the God-transmitted Oracles, that 
to those who have passed their life piously, the most 
bright and divine d life is given in return, according 
to their due e , by the most just balances, the Divine 
Love towards man overlooking, through its goodness, 
the stains which have come to them through human 

c Malachi ii. 7. d I John v. 16. e /cot* a^iow. 

J 5° Dionysius the Areopagite 

infirmity, since no one, as the Oracles say, is pure 
from blemish f . ' 

Section VII. 
Now, the Hierarch knew these things to have been 
promised by the infallible Oracles; and he asks, that 
these thmgs may come to pass, and that the right- 
teous returns be given to those who have lived 
piously, whilst being moulded beneficently to the 
Divine imitation, he beseeches gifts for others as 
favours to himself; and, whilst knowing that the 
promises will be unfailing, he makes known clearly 
to those present, that the things asked by him, ac- 
cording to a holy law, will be entirely realized for 
those who have been perfected in a Divine life For 
the Hierarch, the expounder of the supremely Divine 
Justice, would never seek things, which were not 
most pleasing to the Almighty God, and divinely 
promised to be given by Him «. Wherefore, he does 
not offer these prayers over the unholy fallen asleep 
not only because in this he would deviate from his' 
office of expounder, and would presumptuously arro- 
gate, on his own authority, a function of the Hier- 
archy, without being moved by the Supreme Legis- 
lator, but because he would both fail to obtain his 
abommable prayer, and he, not unnaturally, would 
hear from the just Oracle, " Ye ask, and receive not 
because ye ask amiss".." Therefore, the Divine 
Hierarch beseeches things divinely promised, and 

'Jobxiv.4. SAp.Cviii.43. " James iv. 3. 

071 the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 157 

dear to God, and which will, in every respect, be 
given, demonstrating both his own likeness to the 
good loving God, and declaring explicitly the gifts 
which will be received by the devout. Thus, the 
Hierarchs have discriminating powers, as interpreters 
of the Divine Awards, not as though the All-Wise 
Deity, to put it mildly, were slavishly following their 
irrational impulses, but, as though they, as expounders 
of God, were separating, by the motion of the Divine 
Spirit, those who have already been judged by God, 
according to due. For "receive," he says, "the Holy 
Spirit, whose l faults ye may have remitted, they are 
remitted ; whose ye may have retained, they are re- 
tained." And to him who was illuminated with the 
Divine revelations of the most Holy Father, the 
Oracles say, " Whatsoever thou shalt have bound 
upon the earth, shall be bound in the heavens ; and 
whatsoever thou shalt have loosed on earth, shall be 
loosed in the heavens k ," inasmuch as he, and every 
Hierarch like him, according to the revelations of 
the Father's awards through him, receives those dear 
to God, and rejects those without God, as announc- 
ing and interpreting the Divine Will. Further, as 
the Oracles affirm, he uttered that sacred and divine 
confession, not as self-moved 1 , nor as though flesh 
and blood had revealed it, but moved by God Who 
revealed to him the spiritual meaning of Divine 
things. The inspired Hierarchs then must so exer- 
cise their separations and all their Hierarchical 

1 John xx. 22, 23. k Matt. xvi. 19. 1 Ibid. 17. 

1 5^ Dionysius the Areopagite 

powers as the Godhead, the Supreme Initiator, may 
move them; and the others must so cling to the 
H.erarchs as moved by God, in what they may 
do h,erarchically, "For he who despiseth you," He 
says, "despiseth Me"." 

Section VIII. 
Let us now proceed to that, which follows the 
prayer mentioned. When the Hierarch has finished 
it, .he first salutes the fallen asleep, and next, all 
who are present ; for dear and honoured by all God- 
hke men is he who has been perfected in a Divine 
life. After the salutation, the Hierarch pours the 
oil upon the man fallen asleep. And remember, 
that during the sacred Birth from God, before the 
most D.vine Baptism, a first participation of a holy 
symbol is given to the man initiated-the oil of 
Chrism-after the entire removal of the former 
clothing; and now, at the conclusion of all the 
Oil is poured upon the man fallen asleep Then 
indeed the anointing with the Oil summoned the 
initiated to the holy contests; and now the Oil 
poured upon him shews the fallen asleep to have 
struggled, and to have been made perfect, through- 
out those same contests. 

Section IX. 
When the Hierarch has finished these things, he 
places the body in an honourable chamber, with 

" Luke x. 16. 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 1 5 9 

other holy bodies of the same rank. For if, in soul 
and body, the man fallen asleep passed a life dear 
to God, there will be honoured, with the devout 
soul, the body also, which contended with it through- 
out the devout struggles. Hence the Divine justice 
gives to it, together with its own body, the retri- 
butive inheritances, as companion and participator 
in the devout, or the contrary, life. Wherefore, the 
Divine institution of sacred rites bequeaths the 
supremely Divine participations to them both— to 
the soul, indeed, in pure contemplation and in 
science of the things being done, and to the body, 
by sanctifying the whole man, as in a figure with 
the most Divine Muron, and the most holy symbols 
of the supremely Divine Communion, sanctifying 
the whole man, and announcing, by purifications of 
the whole man, that his resurrection will be most 

Section X. 
Now, as regards the consecrating invocations, it 
is not permitted to explain them in writing, nor may 
we bring their mysterious meaning, or the powers 
from God working in them, from secrecy to pub- 
licity; but, as our sacred tradition holds, by learning 
these, through quiet instructions, and being perfected 
to a more Godlike condition and elevation, through 
Divine love and religious exercises, thou wilt be 
borne by the consecrating enlightenment to their 
• highest science. 

l6 ° Dionysius the Areopagite 

Section XI. 
Now the fact that even children, not vet able 
to understand the things Divine, become recipients 
of the holy Birth in God, and of the most holy 
symbols of the supremely Divine Communion, seems 
as you say, to the profane, a fit subject for reason- 
able laughter, if the Hierarchs teach things Divine 
to those not able to hear, and vainly transmit the 
sacred traditions to those who do not understand 
And this is still more laughable-that others, on 
their behalf, repeat the abjurations and the sacred 
compacts. But thy Hierarchical judgment must not 
be too hard upon those who are led astray, but 
persuasively, and for the purpose of leading them 
to the light, reply affectionately to the objections 
alleged by them, bringing forward this fact, in 
accordance with sacred rule, that not all things 
Divine are comprehended in our knowledge, but 
many of the things, unknown by us, have causes 
beseeming God, unknown to us indeed, but well 
known to the Ranks above us. Many things also 
escape even the most exalted Beings, and are known 
distinctly by the All-Wise and Wise-making God- 
head alone. Further, also, concerning this, we affirm 
the same things which our Godlike initiators con- 
veyed to us, after initiations from the early " tra- 
dition. For they say, what is also a fact, that 

* &PX«las. See Acts xv. 7, 21, 16 ; and Archbishop Trench 
let even Dupin ignorantly alleged that word as proof Post- 
Apostolic. Nov. Bib. p. 100 ; C. ii. 41 

on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 1 6 1 

infants, being brought up according to a Divine 
institution, will attain a religious disposition, exempt 
from every error, and inexperienced in an unholy 
life. When our Divine leaders came to this con- 
clusion, it was determined to admit infants upon 
the following conditions, viz. : that the natural 
parents of the child presented, should transfer 
the child to some one of the initiated,— a good 
teacher of children in Divine things,— and that 
the child should lead the rest of his life under 
him, as under a godfather and sponsor, for his 
religious safe-keeping. The Hierarch then requires 
him, when he has promised to bring up the child 
according to the religious life, to pronounce the 
renunciations and the religious professions, not, as 
they would jokingly say, by instructing one instead 
of another in Divine things ; for he does not say 
this, " that on behalf of this child I make, myself, 
the renunciations and the sacred professions,'' but, 
that the child is set apart and enlisted; i.e. I 
promise to persuade the child, when he has come 
to a religious mind, through my godly instructions, 
to bid adieu wholly to things contrary, and to 
profess and perform the Divine professions. There 
is here, then, nothing absurd, in my judgment, 
provided the child is brought up as beseems a god- 
like training, in having a guide and religious surety, 
who implants in him a disposition for Divine things, 
and keeps him inexperienced in things contrary. 

The Hierarch imparts to the child the sacred 
symbols, in order that he may be nourished by 


1 62 Dionysius the Areopagite, &*c. 

them, and may not have any other life but that 
which always contemplates Divine things ; and in 
religious progress become partaker of them and 
have a religious disposition in these matters, and be 
devoutly brought up by his Godlike surety. So 
great, my son, and so beautiful, are the uniform 
visions of our Hierarchy, which have been presented 
to my view; and from others, perhaps, more con- 
templative minds, these things have been viewed, 
not only more clearly, but also more divinely. And 
to thee, as I fancy, more brilliant and more divine 
beauties will shine forth, by using the foregoing 
stepping-stones to a higher ray. Impart then, my 
friend, thyself also, to me, more perfect enlighten- 
ment, and shew to mine eyes the more comely and 
uniform beauties that thou mayst have been able to 
see, for I am confident that, by what has been said, 
I shall strike the sparks of the Divine Fire stored 
up in thee. 

&&anks foe t © tj # 

All Saints* Day, 1898. 

Bacon, Advancement in Learning, p. 2. 



Dionysius the Areopagite 

Publius . 118- 

Quadratus, who presented 

Apology to Hadrian 





Dionysius the Areopa- 
gite . • 70—119 






1. Eugenius . 69 — 121 

2. Melantius 

3. Pelagius 

4. Patrummus 

5. Eusebius 

6. Quintus 

7. Vincentius 
Eugenius Marcellus was 

consecrated at Aries 
by Dionysius the 
Areopagite . 68 — 69 

The list at Toledo is as com- 
plete as the list at Milan. 

St. Trophimus . . c. 46 

Dionysius the Areopa- 
gite . . 68—70 
St. Regulus 
St. Felix 
Martianus a 
St. Marin . . 3 T 4 


From Saxi 




1. Anotolone, G. . 51—64 5- St. Mona, M. 192—250 

2. Cajo, R. b . . 64—85 6. St. Materno, M. 252—304 

3. Castrinziano, M. 97— 137 7- St. Mirocle, M. 304— 325 

4. Calivero, G. 138— 190 

136 Bishops to 1898. St. Ambrose, nth Bishop, 374—397- 

» a.d. 254 Cyprian wrote to Pope Stephen urging him to depose 
Marcion, 15th or 18th Bishop from St. Trophimus. See "Monuments 
inedits" de M. Faillon, t. II. p. 375. and Darras, p. 14/ . 

b Gaius Oppius was the Centurion of the Crucifixion, and father ot 
Agothoppius, mentioned by Ignatius. 

164 Appendix. 

Metropolitans of London, from King Lucius to 
Pagan expulsion, 586, from list of Jocelyn, 12th 
century, to be found in Stow, Ussher, Godwin, 
and Fasti of Le Neve. 

1. Theonus, in time of King Lucius (186 — 193 a.d,). He 

built the church of St. Peter, Cornhill. 

2. Elvanus, messenger from Lucius to Eleutherus, Bishop 

of Rome, by whom he was consecrated. 

3. Cadwr, or Cadoc. Name occurs at Caerleon. 

4. Obinus. See Ussher, Antiq., p. 67. No date. 

5. Conan. No date. 

6. Palladius. " Bishop of Britain." 

7. Stephanus. No date. 

8. Iltutus, Abbot of the School of Llandaff. 

9. Theodwin, or Dedwin. No date. 

10. Theodred. No date. 

11. Hilarius. 

12. Restitutus, who attended Council of Aries, a.d. 314. 

13. Guitelinus. Mentioned by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Hist. 

VI. cc. 2—6. 

14. Vodinus. Put to death, 453. 

15. Theonus 2nd. Translated from Gloucester, 542; fled to 

Wales, 586. To these may be added 

16. Fastidius, Bishop of Britain, a.d. 431. 

Metropolitans of York, from Godwin, Bishop 
of Llandaff, 1601. 

1. Sampson, appointed by King Lucius. 

2. Taurinus, Bishop of Evreux, " Ebroicensis." 

3. Eborius, at Aries, A.D. 314. 

4. Sampson, or Saxo, expelled by Saxons, and transferred 

his pall to Dol in Brittany ; consecrated, 490. Geoffrey, 
Hist. VIII. 12, IX. 8. 

5. Piran, appointed by King Arthur, a.d. 522, in place of 

Sampson, a.d. 522. Ibid. IX. 8. 

6. Thadiacus fled to Wales, a.d. 586. Geoff. Hist. XI. 10. 

List of Bishops. l6 5 

There was also Faganus, a messenger to Etatteu. .from 
t ;«o Pprhaos it was he who founded the bee 01 

SS - " wtat is now wells ' which lasted 

till 721. 

Isle of Man. 
Amphibalus was Bishop of Man before a.d. 447, * which 
year St. Patrick consecrated Germanus to Man. 

St Ninian, Bishop of Whithern (subsequently in the Province 
of YorH was consecrated by Pope Siricius, A.D. 394; rettred 

to Ireland, 420 ; died, 432. 

Province of Caerleon, 

1. Dyfan ) Missiona ries of Eleutherus. 

2. Ffagan ) 

4. EdyTeH. Adelfius at Aries in 3H- He is claimed also 

by Colchester and Lincoln. 

5. Cadwr. 

6. Cynan. 

7. Han. 

8. Llewyr. 

9. Cyhelyn. 

10. Guitelin. , , -p. 

11. Tremorinus, died about 490, and was succeeded by Du- 

britius of Llandaff, after which the Primacy seems to 

have wavered between Llandaff and Menevia. Geoff. 

Hist. VIII. 10. 

Dubritius consecrated in 449 (Benedict of Gloster); in 

49 (Geoffrey), Bishop of Llandaff, and became Metropol tan 

on the death of Tremorinus, as stated above, but hrs seat 

remained at Llandaff. 

166 Appendix. 

St. David ,st Bishop of Menevia, was consecrated at 
Jerusalem, with two companions c AD , IQ nnr f / 

as Metropolitan on the death of D^ ^^^ 
mained at St. David's. e " 

After him came Teilo, eonsecrated at the same time as 
St. David, at Jerusalem, a.d. 5 x 9 , to Llandaff. He succeeded 

Lla„; ff ; P ° litan ' S ° ffiCe ° n St - Da " d ' s death, etaijn' 
Llandaff, and consecrating Ismael to St. David's as a Suffrage 

prfalTed t^^ K* ^77^' ^ 

must h H r " ain <Migne ' Ser - Graca ' '<"- "!•) /.here 
must have been many Bishops in Britain before Kin! V 
was able to supersede the D,uid by the ChristLn K,ne . LuCms 
Within ten years after the arrival JTJ^TIZZT"*? 
first-fruit of Britain was sen, to Rome forest ut, on and'' ' 
secration He founded a Church in Beatenbe^, Sw LelnT" 
For Bishops in France, see Gallia Christiana 

"£2S^^*^ «■> -ford, 
A,he „s h at d 8 Yo e rh 7 ""t '" ** '° "* Archbish °P» «f 

.o 'lSS; K " ™<" — ated to Llandaff. and Patern. con s «cn,. e d 


Appendix. l6 ? 



i. Washing of feet. St. John xiii. 4-U- 
a. Anointing of siek with prayer for healing. St. 
James v. i4> I S- 

3. Anointing with Oil and Muron in Baptism. 

4. Anointing with Muron for Consecration. 
5 Trine immersion in Baptism. 

6. Intense offered to God's Holy Name. Malachi 
ii. 11. 


D. = Vol. I. ; H. = Vol. II. 

Agnosia, D. i, 21-9, 130-3, 

141, 144 
Angels, St. Paul's teaching, 

Anomia (Lawlessness), D. 

Apostles and Successors, D. 

Archetypes, D. 36-7; H. 11, 


Baptism, H. 75, 86, 89, 158 
Burial, H. 145 — 159 

Consecration, H. 90, 106 
Contemplation, H. 51, 70, 

80, 91, in, 124, 132, 141, 


Dedication of Monk, 139—41 
Deification, D. 26 — 96, 104, 

117; H. 3. 77>8o, 88, 97 
Diptychs ; H. 90 — 102 

Evil. D. 52—72. 

God-Parents ; H. 160 

Hierarch, D. 160; H. 44, 
69. 72, 79, 89, no, 131, 
136, 148, 157 

Holy Communion, H. 87 — 
109, 90, 97, 106, 108 

Incense, H. 89, 92, no, 113 

Jesus, D. 16, 21, 22, 23, 117, 
124, 142, 143, 149, 156, 162, 
165 ; H. 20, 27, 67, 70, 92, 

94, 95, 104, 106, 107, 115, 
120, 122, 127, 133, 134 

Monad, D. 5, no, 123, 124; 

H. 31 
Muron, H. no — 122 
Mystic, D. 21, 31, 167 

Nature, of God, D. 91, 124, 
134; of life, D. 84, 79; 
causes of life, D. 7 ; corrup- 
tion of life, D. 64, 65 

Oracles, Mystic, H. 7 ; In- 
telligible, H. 44 ; given by 
God, H. 131 ; Canon of 
truth, D. 15 ; Source of 
Theology, D. 12 ; Essence 
of Hierarchy, H. 72, 96, 

Ordination, Bishop, Priest, 
and Deacon, H. 131 -7 

Paradeigma, D. 81 ; H. 41, 

Prayer, D. 27, 28 ; H. 153— 

158 ; for ungodly, 154 
Providence, D. 9, 11, 27, 

32, 34, 44, 48, 70, 73, 104, 

115, 117, 120, 158; H. 


Symbolic Theology, D. 167 
Symbols, D. 172; H. 2, 3, 
4, 5, 9, 11, 26, 105 

Tradition, D. 6, 16, 21, 170 
Triad, D. 17, 27, 37, 79, 125 

Unction, H. 78, 80, 158 

^^ llllM S #*»♦